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Wednesday, April 7, 1999 Published at 06:27 GMT 07:27 UK


Last stop for rail shake-up

The new director will have to monitor rail firms' performance

The government is set to complete what it calls its "spring-clean" of the UK's railways with the appointment of a new passenger rail franchising director.

The new incumbent will be responsible for monitoring the performance of privatised train operating companies and negotiating their future franchises.

Due to be revealed on Wednesday by Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, the new appointment is the third of such recent rail announcements.

New rail names

Former Eurotunnel chief Sir Alastair Morton was in February named chairman of the new shadow Strategic Rail Authority, which has been set up to oversee the railways.

Sir Alastair began work last week and can be expected to become chairman of the "real" SRA when legislation is enacted to bring it into being.

And in March, Mr Prescott appointed Scottish lawyer Tom Winsor as the new rail regulator. He takes over from the present holder of the post - Chris Bolt - on 5 July.

The new rail franchising director will succeed John O'Brien, who has been in the job since 1996.

Changes to rail regulation

The new director is expected to begin work this summer and will work closely with SRA chief Sir Alastair to pave the way for possible changes in the way the rail industry is regulated and supported.

Two newspapers reported on Wednesday that the new director would be Mike Grant, deputy director of property at Railtrack.

The Times said that Mr Grant would be able to renew his working relationship with Sir Alastair, his former boss at Eurotunnel.

The Independent said that Mr Grant would take charge of enforcing the franchise terms of the 25 train operators and would be responsible for negotiating new extended franchises for successful operators.

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