Outlook: Corbett's train finally emerges from the tunnel
Thursday 16 December 1999
Unfortunately, the spurt in the share price is only relative and much depends on where you started from. Even after a 25 per cent uplift in the last three days, Railtrack is still only worth two-thirds of what it was before the Rail Regulator Tom Winsor and the Deputy Prime Minister began slapping Mr Corbett about the face on a regular basis.
Thankfully, even they had to conclude sooner or later that it served no-one's interests, least of all long-suffering train passengers, to see Railtrack in permanent free-fall. The regulator and his political masters cannot blame Mr Corbett and Richard Branson for ever for the grim state of the train service to Birmingham. The confession that upgrading the West Coast Mainline will cost twice as much as first thought has focussed minds in Downing Street about where the extra pounds 3bn is going to come from.
Even as things stand, Gordon Brown will have to dig deep into either his warchest or the taxpayer's pocket to finance the required investment in the country's rail infrastructure. With Railtrack's capacity to borrow and its ability to pay the interest being whittled away, there was a danger of Mr Winsor killing the only goose capable of laying any kind of egg for the rail industry.
Hence, yesterday's lighter-touch regulatory settlement for Railtrack. It is a little tougher than the present one but it is a good deal better than that dished out to either the water or electricity companies. Furthermore, it recognises that Railtrack's investment programme turns it from a plain utility stock into a business which carries a good deal more risk than a water or electricity supply monopoly, and deserves a rate of return to match. There may be light at the end of the tunnel for Mr Corbett after all.
- 1 Forget 'The Dress': Here are five of the biggest news stories you might have missed
- 2 The black and blue dress: Makers considering a white and gold version
- 3 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
- 4 The remarkable archaeological underwater discovery that could open up a new chapter in the study of European and British prehistory
- 5 MH370: 'Putin ordered plane to be flown to Kazakhstan space port,' conspiracy theory claims
Boris Nemtsov shot dead: Outspoken Putin critic who had expressed fears for his life is killed near the Kremlin
PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
Ukraine crisis: Top Chinese diplomat backs Putin, says West should 'abandon zero-sum mentality'
White and gold or blue and black – what colour is the dress? An eyewitness gives a definitive answer
Saudi Muslim cleric claims the Earth is 'stationary' and the sun rotates around it
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
Half of Ukip voters say they are prejudiced against people of other races
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Aqsa Mahmood branded a 'disgrace' by her parents after claims she recruited three UK girls flying to Middle East
iJobs Money & Business
£40000 - £50000 per annum + pro rata: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...
£30000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established in 1999, a highly r...
£250-£300 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Are you a qualified accountant with strong exp...
£230 - £260 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Do you want to stamp your footprint in histo...