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Railtrack to retain safety role

  : Sunday February 13, 2000
Railtrack is likely to retain its responsibility for safety on
Britain's railways following recommendations made in the Rowlands report.
The report, commisoned by the government shortly after the tragedy at Paddington last October suggests that 'safety responsibility should be left with Railtrack, but in a subsidiary company.' At the time of the accident in which 31 people died, there was considerable public anxiety about the role of safety being inthe hands of Railtrack, a private company. Concerns were widely expressed about the ability of the company to balance the profit motive with its safety obligations. John Prescott, Deputy Prime Minister said that he wanted rail safety to be overseen by an independent organisation.

It is expected however that Mr Prescott will shorlty announce that Railtrack will keep its safety role.

In a vitriolic statement, the shadow transport spokesman, Bernard Jenkin said that the Deputy Prime Minister had been "found out" by the report and described his orignal announcement on Railtrakc's role as "a sordid, petty and irresponsible political manoeuvre". He said "It stank then and it stinks even more now."

It is understood that Mr Prescott remains committed to an independent safety body. This will be one of the the considerations of the Cullen Inquiry into the Paddington Disaster.

The Train Operating Companies (TOCs) are divided on the issue. The Association of Train Operating Companies and South West Trains believe that Railtrack should retain its safety role. Others are less certain. Virgin Trains Chief Executive stressed the need for the independence of the safety role stating " it is important to ensure its independence by distancing it as much as possible from the Railtrack executive."

Railtrack is the organisation that owns Britain's railway infrastructure. It is responsible for maintaining it and controls track access.

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Web sources:
Prescott U-turn leaves Railtrack with safety role
The Telegraph 13/02/2000



Health & Safety Executive (HSE)

Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC)

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This file last updated: Sunday, 13-Feb-2000 09:02:03 EST
Copyright © David Fry 1999