Latest Rail News

15.01.15

Christmas engineering work contractors face financial penalties

The contractors responsible for the Christmas engineering works that overran at Paddington and Kings Cross will face stiff financial penalties from Network Rail.

Mark Carne, Network Rail’s chief executive, appeared before the Transport Select Committee to answer questions on the engineering over-runs and subsequent operations failures that led to the Christmas chaos at King’s Cross and Paddington. He admitted that “there were clear failings in the way that work was executed”.

He added: “We do have an accountability framework within our organisation and that extends to those contractors and suppliers that we work with.”

The over-running work at Holloway Junction, which resulted in the closure of King’s Cross, was conducted by an alliance of Amey and Network Rail. Carne told the committee that it was completed under a “risk-reward contract” that allows Network Rail to impose penalties if the company does not deliver the required performance.

“As a result of this failure on this particular job they will lose about 25% of the total annual prize that was available, so it’s a significant penalty to the contract,” Carne said.

For the signalling work at Old Oak Common that affected the Great Western Main Line, Carne said there was a range of penalties depending on how long the delay lasts. The contractor for that work was Signalling Solutions (SSL), a consortium of Alstom and Balfour Beatty, and they are expected to be hit with a penalty in the region of £200,000.

Carne also revealed that two competitors had come forward to offer to work with SSL “to improve the way it works”.

Earlier this week, Network Rail published its investigation into the well reported over-runs, which revealed that equipment failures, poor planning and ineffective communication were all contributors to the disruption in the capital. 

Another inquiry into the over-runs has been announced. This will be overseen by rail industry body the Rail Delivery Group. The ORR has already launched its own inquiry. 

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