Railtrack

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Railtrack was a group of companies that owned the track, signalling, tunnels, bridges, level crossings and all but a handful of the stations of the British railway system from its formation in April 1994 until 2002. The Company was listed on the London Stock Exchange and was a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index but on 3 October 2002, the main operating arm - the owner and operator of the national railway network, Railtrack PLC - was sold by its parent company Railtrack Group plc to "not for dividend" company Network Rail (a company limited by guarantee) and was later renamed Network Rail Infrastructure Ltd.

Railtrack Group plc was renamed RT Group plc and was dissolved on 22 June 2010.[1]

Contents

History

Founding

Founded under Conservative legislation that privatised the railways, Railtrack took control of the railway infrastructure on 1 April 1994 and was floated on the Stock Exchange in May 1996.[2]

The fatal accidents at Southall in 1997[3] and Ladbroke Grove in 1999[4] called into question the effect that the fragmentation of the railway network had had on both safety and maintenance procedures.

In February 1999 the Company launched a bond issue which caused a significant fall in the Company's share price.[5]

Railtrack was severely criticised for both its performance in improving the railway infrastructure and for its safety record. Between its creation and late 1998, the company had a relatively calm relationship with its first economic regulator, John Swift QC, whose strategy was to encourage Railtrack to make commitments to improvement.[6] But critics said that the regulator was not tough enough and that the company had, as a result, been able to abuse its monopoly position. In particular, its customers, the passenger and freight train operators, were desperate for regulatory action to force the company to improve its stewardship of the network and its performance. Swift had been appointed rail regulator in 1993 by the then Conservative transport secretary John MacGregor MP. When the Labour government took over after the general election in May 1997, the new transport secretary (and deputy prime minister) John Prescott took a much harder line. When Swift's five-year term of office expired on 30 November 1998, he was not reappointed.[7] After an interim holding period, during which Chris Bolt, Swift's chief economic adviser and effective deputy, filled the regulator's position, in July 1999 a new rail regulator began a five-year term, and a new, much tougher regulatory era began.[8]

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