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Regulator unable to track Railtrack spending

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RAILTRACK could be wasting billions of pounds of taxpayers' money because the rail regulator has no way of knowing whether it is spending its subsidies effectively, the National Audit Office said this week.

Regulator Tom Winsor is unable to assess Railtrack's maintenance spending as he is not given sufficient information about the condition of bridges, stations and signals.

The National Audit Office report details the findings of its investigation into how the regulator ensures Railtrack spends its £1.5bn annualGovernment subsidy effectively.

The report calls on the Office of the Rail Regulator to clarify Railtrack's maintenance and renewal targets. It also says the ORR and Railtrack must agree on a method of removing 'information deficiencies' about asset conditions.

'For some types of assets, such as signalling equipment, bridges and stations, assetcondition can deteriorate considerably before such performance is affected,' says the report.

It also points out that the ORR and Railtrack have failed to agree on what track maintenance and renewal work needs to be carried out. There is also no agreement on how the network would improve as a result of work being done.

'Railtrack told us that because of this problem . . . it has found that the ORR's expectations have been unclear and unpredictable,' says the report.

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