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Friday, 27 September, 2002, 03:44 GMT 04:44 UK
End in sight for Railtrack
Train
Network Rail could take over within days
The final legal process to terminate Railtrack's ownership of Britain's rail network is about to begin.

Transport Secretary Alistair Darling is expected to ask the High Court to end the administration which the government forced the company into last year.

The court action will pave the way for the railways to be transferred into new ownership next week.

It is almost a year since Railtrack was put into administration by former transport secretary Stephen Byers.

The legal process will mean Network Rail, a non-dividend company set up by the government, should take over the railways within days.

Former transport secretary Stephen Byers
Stephen Byers set process in motion

However, passenger watchdogs and train operators fear there will not be improvements unless Network Rail brings its contractors under tighter control.

Network Rail is expected to strip contractors of responsibility for planning track inspections and track maintenance and to reduce the hundreds of sub-contractors and labour agencies.

The new company, which has promised to be "dedicated to the interests of rail users", says there will be a narrow focus on fixing the railways.

Tight targets

Unlike Railtrack, any profits will be ploughed back into the business rather than being split between shareholders as dividends.

Management incentives will be tied to performance targets such as safety and punctuality rather than profits.

Network Rail, which is made up of train operators, rail unions and passenger groups, will inherit Railtrack's debts of 7bn.


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27 Jun 02 | PM
05 May 02 | Business
25 Mar 02 | Business
25 Mar 02 | Politics
25 Mar 02 | Business
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