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West Coast train times 'poor' despite upgrade

The £9bn upgrade on the West Coast Main Line has failed to improve punctuality on the line, which still remains well below the national average.

Network Rail revealed that just 86.4% of services on the London to Scotland service ran on time between June 28 and July 25, compared to a national average of 92.4%.

Figures also showed that over the 12 months to July 25, 90.9% of all trains ran on time, while Virgin was again below average at 81.0%.

However, train punctuality on the West Coast route in July was significantly higher than the figure from 12 months earlier of only 77.3%, an increase of 9.1%.

The poor levels of punctually have continued despite a major upgrade taking place on the line last December. As a result the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR), passenger groups and politicians have all expressed disappointment to Network Rail over the performance.

Network Rail’s director of operations and customer service, Robin Gisby, said: “Train punctuality is being maintained at historically high levels and our extra investment targeted at improving performance on the west coast main line is seeing early signs of success.

“Our focus remains on driving up performance for Virgin and the other operators on the west coast.”



nceRefinery construction strike threat

Strike proposals for thousands of power-station and oil-refinery construction workers across Britain are to be put to the vote.

Union bosses are to give the required seven days` notice of an industrial-action ballot after months of unrest and unofficial actions.

These include the bitter row at Total`s Lindsey oil terminal in North Lincolnshire, where 650 workers were sacked for taking part in wildcat walkouts.

The GMB and Unite unions accuse “unscrupulous” employers of denying local workers jobs by favouring migrant workers, and say that national agreements are being undercut.

They also allege that employers have rejected an improved national agreement, which they say would have delivered long-term stability.

Says GMB general secretary Paul Kenny: “The objective of this dispute is to eliminate discrimination, unfair treatment and exploitation of workers.

“A robust and transparent auditing process is the only way of forcing these employers to break from their bad habits. This is not a skills issue, this is not a foreign worker issue, it is about fairness and adhering to agreed standards.”

<> (GMB)



nceMcArdle wins M25 clearance contract

The London-based McArdle civil-engineering group has won a 100 million euro (£85 million), three-year contract to work on the project to widen London`s M25 orbital motorway.

The contract was awarded by Skanska-Balfour and will involve site clearance and earthworks covering around 60km of the route. Six million tonnes of soil and aggregates will have to be moved.

McArdle, which was acquired last year by Cork-based Mercier Private Equity and also has a joint venture in the Caribbean, says it is the largest project it has ever worked on.

The company specialises in motorway development, site remediation and construction projects. These include the redevelopment of the M1, the A3 Hindhead Tunnel, the T5 baggage handling tunnel at Heathrow and the Limerick Southern Ring Road Tunnel in Ireland.

<> (McArdle Group)

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