Tunnel chief is rail watchdog

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The Independent Online
THE MAN who put together the pounds 8.6bn deal to save the Channel Tunnel project from financial ruin has been hand-picked by his former boss to get Britain's trains running on time.

Mike Grant, former head of Treasury at Eurotunnel, will today be named chief executive of the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA). He will report directly to Sir Alastair Morton, SRA chairman, who was co-chairman at Eurotunnel during its financial restructuring. Sir Alastair once described Mr Grant as having "a backbone and a heart of steel".

Mr Grant will be in charge of enforcing the franchise terms of the 25 train operators, and will be responsible for negotiating new extended franchises for successful operators.

He will not officially take up the post until legislative time is found to create the SRA. In the meantime he will head the Passenger Rail Franchising office.

As franchising director Mr Grant, 45, will be responsible for getting rail companies to improve performance after recent poor punctuality and reliability.

The post carries a salary of pounds 150,000 a year. Mr Grant, a Liverpudlian, is currently deputy property director at Railtrack.

In its advertisement, the Government said it was looking for "a tough leader who understands the management of large contracts and the art of hard negotiation".

His appointment completes the "spring clean" of rail being carried out by John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister and Transport Secretary. Mr Prescott last week named Tom Winsor, a City lawyer, as the rail regulator to oversee Railtrack.

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