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Tuesday, 1 October, 2002, 16:40 GMT 17:40 UK
Railtrack sale gets green light
Train
Network Rail is set to take over within days
The High Court has backed a government request to take failed railway management company Railtrack out of administration.


We welcome the advent of Network Rail

George Muir, ATOC director
The court ruled on Tuesday that Railtrack's administration order was to be lifted at 0700 UK time on 3 October.

The decision means that the UK's 23,000 miles of railway track - Railtrack's main asset - should within days be taken over by its successor, Network Rail.

Network Rail - a not-for-profit company set up by the government - will plough any profits from running the railway system back into track maintenance.

Railtrack, a stock market listed company, used to pay part of its profits to shareholders in the form of dividends.

Fresh start

Upgrading the UK's rail infrastructure has become a priority following a series of fatal train crashes, including last May's derailment at Potters Bar.

Train operating companies - which pay annual fees to Railtrack for using the railway system - welcomed the High Court decision.

"We welcome the advent of Network Rail and call on the new organisation to implement a programme of upgrading, renewal and maintenance of Britain's railway infrastructure," said George Muir, director general of the Association of Train Operating Companies.

Cost squeeze

The High Court decision comes almost a year after former transport secretary Stephen Byers decided to put Railtrack into administration rather than keep contributing towards the company's escalating track repair bill.

Railtrack shareholders earlier this year voted in favour of selling the rail system to Network Rail for 500m.

Three fifths of that sum was was provided by the taxpayer.

Under the deal, Railtrack shareholders are due to receive up to 260p per share in compensation - close to 90% of their value when trading in the firm's stock was suspended in October 2001.

Railtrack shares had peaked at about 17 two years earlier.

Network Rail will also inherit Railtrack's 7bn in debt.


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05 May 02 | Business
25 Mar 02 | Business
25 Mar 02 | Politics
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