Railtrack awards pounds 200m contract

A JOINT VENTURE between the contractors Balfour Beatty and Tarmac and the French engineer Alstom yesterday won a pounds 200m deal to renew overhead cables on the West Coast Main Line, writes Francesco Guerrera.

The work is part of a pounds 2.2bn modernisation programme by Railtrack to slash journey times on the London-Glasgow route and end the misery of millions of travellers.

The line, which is operated by Richard Branson's Virgin Trains, has got one of the worst punctuality records in the country, with around one in five trains arriving late.

The three companies will replace and strengthen the overhead cables to enable train to travel on the line at up ot 140 miles an hour.

The work, which is set to be completed in 2005, will enable passengers to travel between London and Glasgow in just under four hours instead of the five hours and twenty minutes taken by trains at present.