Morton attacks Railtrack plans

18 Oct 01
The outgoing chairman of the Strategic Rail Authority, Sir Alastair Morton, has told MPs that the government should seize on the demise of Railtrack as an opportunity to restructure fundamentally Britain's railway network.

19 October 2001

Addressing the Commons transport sub-committee on October 17, Morton took issue with Bob Linnard, director of railways at the Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions, over the role of Railtrack's successor.

The controversial not-for-profit trust announced by Transport Secretary Stephen Byers after he put Railtrack into administration would, Linnard told the committee, have the same responsibilities as the defunct company.

Morton said: 'I believe that the opportunity exists for a "Newtrack" to emerge that is purely an operations and maintenance manager for the railway network.'

The new body, as he envisaged it, would not be as capital intensive as the original Railtrack and would therefore not require as much funding.

'The new company should be a slimmed-down Railtrack. It's not going to emerge with control over access to the network or control over the Special Purpose Vehicles, such as the enhancement of the East Coast mainline.'

Speaking on October 17, the anniversary of the Hatfield rail crash, Morton explained his vision for a vertically integrated Newtrack: 'I'm in favour of it being split up into six regional "Railtracks", with Tocs [train operating companies] in the regions buying shares in them.'


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