Regulator close to breaking law, says Railtrack

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The Independent Online

The rail regulator, Tom Winsor, is in danger of "infringing human rights" in his constant demands on Railtrack for detailed information about the reconstruction of the West Coast Main Line.

In an extraordinary episode in a long-running slanging match, executives at the infrastructure company said that Mr Winsor was being "unreasonable", and therefore potentially in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Gerald Corbett, the chief executive of the rail infrastructure company, said that progress on the £5.8bn project was being hindered by the actions of the regulator. In a letter to Mr Winsor, copied to ministers, the Railtrack chief said the regulator was using a "legalistic and confrontational" approach by resorting to enforcement orders.

Last month Mr Winsor issued a revamped enforcement notice against Railtrack and warned that it could face litigation unless it produced more progress data. Mr Winsor also cast doubt for the first time on the company's ability to finish phase one of the project by the May 2002 deadline. Railtrack yesterday pledged that it would meet the target.

The Office of the Rail Regulator said it was examining Railtrack's submission and would be responding in due course.