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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 March, 2004, 09:07 GMT
Rail watchdog agrees 22bn spend
Train
The UK's rail regulator has approved a 22.2bn ($40.8bn) investment to improve the country's railway network.

Regulator Tom Winsor agreed a restructuring of a finance package he approved last year in order to avert a financial crisis on the railways.

The package - which runs from April 2004 to March 2009 - is less than Network Rail had originally asked for.

The new deal will also see the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) loosen its grip over Network Rail.

The package will mean a freeze on access charges paid by train operating companies for the first two years.

To make up the funding shortfall, Network Rail will be able to borrow 3.14bn.

Cash crisis

Mr Winsor explained that a "suite of controls" which the SRA had established over Network Rail, would be released, "so streamlining and simplifying the company's accountability to its customers and its regulator".

I am satisfied that the proposal will not make it unduly difficult for the company (Network Rail) to finance its relevant activities
Tom Winsor

He added he had agreed to the financing deal "after much consideration".

"I am satisfied that the proposal will not make it unduly difficult for the company (Network Rail) to finance its relevant activities," he said.

"Nor will it threaten the long-term sustainability of the railway or prejudice the interests of the users of railway services."


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