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Spending cuts reduced broken rail repairs

RAILTRACK'S SPIRALLING broken rail problem can be attributed to spending cuts following a change of focus in 1998 critics believe.

These cuts followed recommendations made in Project Destiny, a 1998 report on Railtrack's spending priorities produced by American management consultant McKinsey.

This recommended the scaling down of renewals work.

At the time, Railtrack's business development director Martin Reynolds said the recommendations would 'lead to us doing only the necessary renewals. It might lead to some renewals currently being proposed not being done.'

Railtrack's Network Management Statement shows plans to renew 527km of rail this year.

But figures for the next ten years show the renewals slashed to 310km a year by 2010.

Spending on rail renewals for 2000/2001 is budgeted at £335M, £27M down on the year before, while maintenance has fallen by £16M to £661M.

Track renewals spending is programmed to fall by £100M by 2010 while maintenance spending is set to fall by £150M.

Railtrack's broken rails record has provoked concern from rail regulator Tom Winsor and the Health & Safety Executive. This week Winsor announced a new system of incentives to encourage Railtrack to step up broken rail repairs.

ST

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