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John Ware
Crisis on the railways

For the last five months the rail network has been in chaos. The crisis is estimated to have cost the economy billions. John Ware reports on how the delays have affected one company in Yorkshire.

DWA Architects is a flourishing architects practice in Selby just outside York. Their clients are spread far and wide across the country. The railways are their life support system.

It's costing us in the order of 3,500 a week

David Ward
David Ward founded the company twelve years ago. The business has prospered since he moved from London to York. This year he might just as well have stayed in London.

He says, "It's costing us in the order of 3,500 a week. So far that's cost us in the order of 40,000 and by the time the rail delays have been sorted out, of course there is no real date for when that will happen at the moment, it's going to exceed 50,000 which is a substantial amount for us."

Journeys from hell

We can't actually make the meetings because I've no idea what time the train is getting in

Andrew Jenkins
One employee, Andrew Jenkins, travels up and down to London probably once a week. Normally the journey takes just under two hours. The journey has been anything between 3 and 5 hours.

He says, "You've got to get up a lot earlier which is pretty annoying. You get a lot less time down in London. Most of the time the days are wasted. Quite a few meetings have been cancelled because of the fact that we can't actually make the meetings because I've no idea what time the train is getting in."

His colleague Ben Simcox relies on the railways to get to work every day. He complains that there has been no timetable for his daily journey.

He says "I had to actually go to the station to ask when a train was going to be because I couldn't get through on the help line, and they advised me not to even bother because there had been so many problems with the trains."

Chris Shearman
Chris Shearman: One journey to London took eight hours
Chris Shearman likes to uses the railways as it is a convenient way to get to London. But after Hatfield he had to change his ways.

He says "Because the trains were unreliable I had to result in going to London in the car as thousands of others presumably did because I just had to sit it out on the M1 for hours and hours which took forever."

Metal Fatigue

Hatfield Rail Crash
The Hatfield crash highlighted problems on the network
The trouble started after the Hatfield train crash last October. It was an accident that has proved to be a watershed for the railways.

The problem was a form of metal fatigue called "Gauge Corner Cracking". It had been spreading across the network for most of the 1990s. But it was a problem to which Railtrack gave too little attention.

When the network was inspected after Hatfield, 3800 sites exhibiting Gauge Corner Cracking were found. Railtrack was no longer confident they knew the state of their 19,500-mile network.

Since October Railtrack's contractors have been struggling to put the network back together.

Lost time, lost money

David Ward
David Ward wants better compensation
DWA Architects, like many other companies, has lost out. The working week has been reduced, and workers' family lives have suffered.

David Ward feels let down. He says, "Somebody ought to pay us it back. It's not our fault that that has happened. The compensation we've got back is figures like 7, 11 for a journey delayed for over 2 hours which is ridiculous."

The rail companies need to restore public confidence in the railways. They rely on Railtrack, the only privatised track authority in the world.

Tony Blair says record sums of public money will be invested to build a new railway. But will the government deliver on its promises to deliver a better, less congested transport system?

Panorama investigates the problems on the rail network and the solutions that the Government proposes.

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