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Last Updated: Friday, 13 August, 2004, 11:24 GMT 12:24 UK
UK looks to India for rail help
Train signals
The Indian engineers are due to return home this weekend
British railway bosses have flown in 12 Indian railway engineers to work on revamping Victorian-era signal boxes, it has been revealed.

The Indians have experience repairing systems dating back to the Raj.

Britain's Network Rail said there were not enough British specialist mechanical engineers to do the job.

An MP from Liverpool, Louise Ellman, described the matter as "a very sad commentary of the state of affairs in the UK".

Rods and levers

The Indian engineers have been in the UK for three weeks and are scheduled to return home this weekend.

They have been working on signal boxes near Manchester that date back to the 19th century.

The boxes, comprising rods and levers, form part of the West Coast Line that links London with the north-west.

The boxes were scheduled to be substituted by one "super box" but had to be brought back into service when the hi-tech replacement was shown to be unworkable on one section.

Network Rail said: "The workers were drafted in to ensure there were adequate resources to complete the work on time.

"NR sourced the best possible staff available to carry out the job. In this case, they were from India."

India's railway network is among the world's largest, carrying more than 13 million passengers a day.

Much of the network still depends on outdated, manually operated signalling systems.

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