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Friday, 16 August, 2002, 17:05 GMT 18:05 UK
Network Rail plans 'safe' system
Worker laying new track
Network Rail plans to spend more on maintenance
The company which is taking over the running of Britain's rail infrastructure from Railtrack has outlined its plans to deliver a "safe, reliable and efficient" system.

Network Rail said it would undertake an intensive 18 month programme to discover why many projects had seen huge cost over-runs, and to stabilise the business.

This would include the compiling of a full asset register of the UK's rail infrastructure, which would help to reveal the true state of the rail network.

Network Rail is a not-for-profit company controlled by train operators, rail unions and passenger groups.

Regaining control

Getting a grip on the costs of running and modernising the rail network is seen as crucial if the new company is to gain credibility.

One of its main priorities will be to look at the modernisation of the West Coast main line.

The original estimate to upgrade this route was 2.2bn, but it has now soared to 13bn.

Network Rail said the asset register would be a crucial factor in helping its planning.

"(The register) will enable Network Rail to validate its assumptions about the true state of the rail network, assess the costs of major legacy projects and produce robust and realistic forecasts of the level of expenditure necessary to meet its output obligations," the company said.

More maintenance

Network Rail said it had arranged sufficient financing to cover inherited spending levels from Railtrack, and extra levels of planned maintenance.

The firm said it planned to spend 17.2bn in the period up to March 2004.

Of this, 13.7bn would be spent on maintenance, about a third more than previous plans.


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