Railtrack profits rise to a record pounds 1.3m every day

RAIL INDUSTRY Anger over infrastructure firm's growing revenue and its refusal to spend more cash on safety investment

RAILTRACK PROVOKED fresh fury yesterday after revealing record profits of more than pounds 1.3m a day and declaring that it did not intend to spend more money on safety in the wake of last month's Paddington crash.

The much-criticised infrastructure company said that while it would accelerate the introduction of a new train safety system, its expenditure on passenger protection would remain the same as a proportion of total income.

Speaking after the company posted half-year profits of pounds 236m, the chief executive, Gerald Corbett, said: "It's not necessarily true that spending more money is the answer, we have to get the processes right."

The company conceded that declaring its results so soon after the crash "could be interpreted as insensitive". It is understood that a board meeting ahead of the announcement considered freezing the shareholder dividend and declaring a lower profit.

Mr Corbett said that Railtrack would be introducing the train-protection warning system (TPWS) a year earlier than the 2003 target agreed with Government.

He agreed that the company's pounds 27bn investment programme over 10 years looked "inadequate" and indicated that it would be pushed up by a further pounds 6bn.

Mr Corbett said the expansion of the network would have to be paid for by higher track access charges levied on the train operators. This could mean fare increases or a rise in the level of public subsidies, now running at pounds 1.4bn a year.

The pressure group Save Our Railways said the results "confirmed that the taxpayers' subsidy to the rail industry is being scandalously misused".

Mr Corbett revealed that the number of signals passed at danger (Spads) had edged up since the Paddington disaster in which the driver of a Thames Trains service jumped a red light and was in collision with a Great Western express. The 31st victim died on Wednesday, on the eve of the company announcing profits some 5 per cent up on last year.

While the number of Spads declined year on year for the first six months of 1999, since then there had been "a slight increase", he said. He conceded that while he believed that trains were being driven more cautiously since the crash, there was no evidence to support the contention. It was possible that some drivers were "more tense" post-Paddington and that there were more new drivers on the network.

Referring to the accident, Mr Corbett said that there was an additional warning device near SN109 - the signal missed in west London. Not only did the driver pass the red light, he also ignored a screen at the side. The screen shows a large letter M or R when it is safe to proceed, but on this occasion was blank, meaning he should stop.

Mr Corbett confirmed that the quality of track throughout the system would not be back to the standard it achieved in 1994 until 2001. He said that the pre-privatisation Railtrack had been held to strict public spending limits by the Government between 1994 and 1996.

Railtrack was on course to meet the rail regulator's target of reducing train delays attributable to it by 12.7 per cent in the current financial year, despite previous contentions from management that it was an "unrealistic" target.

Railtrack also said it was scrapping plans to install a "next generation" signalling system on the West Coast mainline following severe problems with the technology.

Suggested Topics
News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
i100

Other places that have held independence referendums
Sport
Jonas Gutierrez (r) competes with Yaya Toure (l)
football

Newcastle winger is in Argentina having chemotherapy

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Blossoming love: Colin Firth as Stanley and Emma Stone as Sophie, in 'Magic in the Moonlight'
film

Actors star in Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight'

News
peopleThe Times of India said actress should treat it as a 'compliment'
News
news

Watch this commuter wage a one-man war against the Circle Line
News
We are phenomenally good at recognising faces; the study showed that humans have been selected to be unique and easily recognisable
science

Human faces unique 'because we don't recognise each other by smell'

Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show?
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
lifeShould we feel guilty about keeping cats inside?
News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
news

Man's attempt to avoid being impounded heavily criticised

Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Student
The Guildhall School of Music and Drama is to offer a BA degree in Performance and Creative Enterprise
student

Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum
theatre

Returning to the stage after 20 years makes actress feel 'nauseous'

Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams in the video of the song, which has been accused of justifying rape
music...and he had 'almost no part' in writing it
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Project Co-ordinator - Birmingham - Permanant

£20000 - £25000 Per Annum Plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

Head of Maths

Negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Head of Maths position at a prestigious ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Huxley Associates

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Huxley Associates are currentl...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Computer Futures

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Computer Futures are currently...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week