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Monday, 23 October, 2000, 09:38 GMT
Winsor defends rail privatisation
Hatfield aftermath
The derailed carriages were lifted off the track at the weekend
The rail regulator has blamed a breakdown in communication between Railtrack and its maintenance employees for the Hatfield disaster.

Tom Winsor said privatisation was not to blame for Tuesday's crash, which killed four people and injured 35.

On Friday an interim report of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said the disaster was due to a broken rail. Railtrack has admitted the state of the track in the area was "not good".

It was almost certainly a failure in the chain of command

Tom Winsor

Mr Winsor said the poor state of the track was due to Railtrack's uncertain relationship with the organisation which carries out repairs along that stretch of track.

Speaking on the day in which he announced Railtrack will spend almost 15bn renewing the network over the next five years, he blamed the company solely for the Hatfield tragedy.

He said: "It was not in my opinion a matter of hundreds of different companies with different contracts and so on, as has been trotted around so much in the last few days.

Chain of command

"It was almost certainly a failure in the chain of command, a simple relationship between Railtrack and the organisation that the company engaged to carry out maintenance on that piece of network.

Tom Winsor
Winsor says privatisation is not to blame

"It is a very serious accident. The indications so far are (that it was) Railtrack's fault and Railtrack has admitted that it was its fault.

"Broken rails is a matter on which I have been putting pressure on Railtrack for some considerable time now."

Mr Winsor, a corporate lawyer, told BBC Radio 4's Today Programme: "It has to improve its performance."

Tom Winsor became the rail regulator in June 1999 and has been severely critical of Railtrack in the past.

Railtrack will now get 900m more than it anticipated to renew the track network between 2001 and 2006.

Mr Winsor said he wanted the money to deliver a modern, safe railway with greater public accountability.

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See also:

04 Nov 99 | The Company File
Railtrack profits spark anger
26 Aug 99 | The Company File
Railtrack network under fire
19 Aug 99 | UK
Railtrack faces 40m fine
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