Network Rail ditches Mowlem from track contracts

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The Independent Online

Rail chiefs have banned the engineering group Mowlem from renewal projects on Britain's railway system until the company can prove it has improved management and working practices.

Rail chiefs have banned the engineering group Mowlem from renewal projects on Britain's railway system until the company can prove it has improved management and working practices.

The suspension follows an inquiry into "sub-standard" work on a stretch of the West Coast main line.

Jarvis, the company at the centre of the Potters Bar disaster, has been given the contract formerly held by Mowlem on the flagship line between London and Glasgow.

The decision by the state-backed infrastructure organisation, Network Rail, was prompted by an incident on the track at Bushey, near Watford, on 10 January. A train driver reported a "rough ride". It is understood Mowlem had replaced 300 yards of track but used the wrong clips to secure it to existing rails. This meant the new rail dipped by a few inches as trains ran on to it.

The infrastructure company said it rectified the fault and launched a "full and detailed" investigation.

The infrastructure organisation said yesterday "weaknesses" were found in management and the implementation of work. The West Coast contract, which expired on 1 April, was not renewed. Network Rail said it had suspended Mowlem from carrying out track renewals "until such time as it can demonstrate that it has implemented the improvements needed in its management and working practices".

A spokesman for Mowlem said the company had submitted plans to improve management systems to Network Rail and would be working with to ensure that it would secure renewal work in future.

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