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Wednesday, April 7, 1999 Published at 11:19 GMT 12:19 UK


Rail companies 'must invest'

The government has had a "spring-clean" of the railways

The government has completed its shake-up of the UK's railways with a warning to rail companies that they must invest or lose their franchises.

Mike Grant, deputy director of property at Railtrack, was appointed as the new Passenger Rail Franchising Director on Wednesday.

The former financial controller at Eurotunnel will be responsible for monitoring the performance of the 25 train operating companies and deciding which get new franchises.

Improvements expected

His is the last of three major appointments in the rail industry in recent weeks.

Announcing the appointment, Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott said: "The train companies have made a long-term commitment to investment and they have to deliver on that or they will lose their franchises."

Liverpool-born Mr Grant said: "The train companies have to perform well. It's as simple as that.

"I am a passenger myself. I shall be expecting an improved service."

In February, former Eurotunnel chief Sir Alastair Morton, 61, was named chairman of the new Shadow Strategic Rail Authority, which has been established to oversee the railways.

Last month Mr Prescott named Scottish lawyer Tom Winsor, 41, as the new Rail Regulator.

Mr Grant will work closely with Sir Alastair - his former boss when both were at Eurotunnel - to pave the way for possible changes in the way the rail industry is regulated and supported.

'Powerful' new team

All three new rail bosses joined Mr Prescott to travel from Peterborough to London on the East Coast main line on Wednesday.

Their Great North Eastern Railways train arrived 10 minutes early at King's Cross station.

Mr Prescott said: "This is a powerful new rail team and one that will have more resources and more powers.

"They are tremendous people and they have worked in the railways and know what's wanted and will do something about it.

"If the train companies improve, I shall praise them. If not, I shall be shouting at them."

Mr Grant, succeeds John O'Brien as Franchising Director.

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