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Rail Contractors Fined Over Christmas Delays

Railway                         Contractors involved in the overrunning of engineering works in the rail sector will face large fines for the disruption caused to services over the Christmas Period, the Construction Enquirer reports. Mark Carne, the chief executive of Network Rail, mentioned the fines in relation to the serious delays caused at Kings Cross and Paddington rail stations in London on 27 December. Problems around the Christmas period included track renewal work, which occurred as a result of numerous equipment failures thus putting various activities out of sync with supporting engineering trains. This in turn caused delays. Carne noted that Amey – the company responsible for work at Holloway near King's Cross – would lose 25% of the annual risk-reward prize available to them, and the Balfour Beatty-Alstom consortium, Signalling Solutions – which was working at Paddington – is due to receive a fine of around £200,000. It was noted that the signalling contractor delivered work featuring a number of underlying problems. Carne continued to note that whilst the work due to be completed was not too ambitious and certainly not too complicated, on one occasion there were serious issues in organisation which meant the test sheets were returned incorrectly – meaning what should've been a two-hour safety validation overran by eight hours. Carne noted that the failure of the contractors led to "an unacceptable performance for the travelling public", however he concluded that despite these setbacks, Network Rail managed to deliver 99% of planned engineering works on time and to a high degree of success. In fact, delays associated with overrunning engineering works have reduced by 50% since 2007, Carne claimed.