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Friday, 19 January, 2001, 12:40 GMT
Hatfield firm loses tracks contract
scene of hatfield crash
The Hatfield crash killed four people.
Balfour Beatty, the rail maintenance firm responsible for inspecting the track at Hatfield at the time of the crash, has lost the contract to continue to operate on that line.

I am confident the new arrangements will put us in a position to deliver better service to our passenger and freight customers


Jonson Cox, Railtrack

Railtrack has instead named rival firm Jarvis Facilities as the preferred bidder to maintain the East Coast main line.

Balfour Beatty had held the contract for the past five years and it wanted to continue.

The maintenance contract - worth 250m over five years - has an option to be extended to 10 years.

"I am delighted ... it is a measure of Railtrack's confidence in Jarvis," said Paris Moayedi, Jarvis's chief executive.

Although Balfour has agreed three contracts with Railtrack - to maintain tracks in the Kent, Wessex, and Anglia & Great Eastern regions.

The three deals are worth a combined annual value of 125m ($184m).

"The maintenance of the railway is of crucial importance. I am confident the new arrangements will put us in a position to deliver better service to our passenger and freight customers," said Railtrack's chief operating officer Jonson Cox.

Broken rail

Balfour Beatty's work at Hatfield came under the spotlight after it emerged that a broken rail was the cause of the derailment last October.

Four people died and more than 30 were injured.

The GNER passenger train, heading from London to Leeds, was travelling at around 115mph when it crashed 17 miles into its journey.

Both Railtrack and Balfour Beatty are widely expected to be criticised by safety inspectors for delaying the replacement of a broken rail at the site of the crash.

Modernising the network

After the derailment, Railtrack said that safety must now take precedent over all other concerns, including running trains to time and keeping down costs.

"To deliver on the huge safety programme, some radical things have got to be done. We're still dealing with 150 years of under investment," warned the company's former boss Gerald Corbett at the time.

In the wake of the crash, Railtrack struggled to modernise the rail network and introduce new safety systems causing widespread disruption.

This was hampered further by poor weather, with floods and landslides doing even more damage to its battered rail system.

Shares in Balfour Beatty were more than 1% higher at 138.5p in midday trading Friday.

Shares in Jarvis rose 3.3% to 248p.

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15 Jan 01 | Business
Railtrack under pressure
16 Aug 00 | Business
Balfour Beatty profits jump
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