Railtrack chairman's Watford Awayday hits the buffers

BOB HORTON never got to Watford yesterday, although thousands of rail passengers who had not intended to ended up on the platforms there.

Mr Horton, chairman of Railtrack, was fortunate that the Tube train accident which caused chaos for travellers from Euston yesterday did not save itself for Friday, which is when his organisation takes on responsibility for British Rail's track and infrastructure. He had no doubt about who would be held responsible by the public: 'Railtrack and privatisation are going to get blamed for everything that goes wrong. At least I'm not as well known as Sir Bob Reid (the British Rail chairman).'

'You will be', the railway manager next to him said.

On his tour of Euston station yesterday Mr Horton was warmly welcomed by staff. In his year as chairman of Railtrack the former BP chairman has belied a reputation for abrasiveness by spending a day a week touring the railway system.

Yesterday's mishap was the sort of thing which can happen to any railway. A Tube train being shunted in sidings at Harrow hit the buffers and damaged electric power lines, forcing British Rail trains to crawl through the area. Inside the control room at Euston Mr Horton kept asking when announcements had been made on delays: 'Communicate, communicate, that's what we've got to do.'

Local trains were being turned round at Watford Junction and only a few InterCity services were getting through. 'It's the worst day for two years,' said one of the controllers.

Railtrack will take on 12,500 former British Rail employees on Friday, three-quarters of whom are signals staff. Much maintenance and engineering work will be contracted out to 30,000 staff who are joining a new unit called BR Infrastructure Services. From now on everything has to be paid for; literally thousands of services are contracted out between organisations.

Mr Horton grinned when he saw a poster in the crew quarters' window which read: 'Privatisation is no solution.' In the manager's office, the talk was of commercial opportunities.

Railtrack remains for the time being a nationalised concern, but Mr Horton is anxious to see it privatised much faster than the Government's original plans, possibly as early as the beginning of 1996, because he wants to free it of Treasury shackles.

The Railtrack staff at Euston all forecast 'a seamless transition' on Friday. But, just in case there is another day of chaos, Mr Horton has cancelled a planned business trip to be on hand if needed.

News
people Emma Watson addresses celebrity nude photo leak
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
News
Boris Johnson may be manoeuvring to succeed David Cameron
i100
News
peopleHis band Survivor was due to resume touring this month
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
News
In this photo illustration a school student eats a hamburger as part of his lunch which was brought from a fast food shop near his school, on October 5, 2005 in London, England. The British government has announced plans to remove junk food from school lunches. From September 2006, food that is high in fat, sugar or salt will be banned from meals and removed from vending machines in schools across England. The move comes in response to a campaign by celebrity TV chef Jamie Oliver to improve school meals.
science
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Life and Style
fashionPart of 'best-selling' Demeter scent range
News
i100
Sport
Tom Cleverley
footballLoan move comes 17 hours after close of transfer window
Sport
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
footballRadamel Falcao and Diego Costa head record £835m influx
Life and Style
fashionAngelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
News
i100
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

Deputy Education Manager

Negotiable: Randstad Education Sheffield: Deputy Education Manager (permanent ...

Science Teacher Urgently required for October start

£6720 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Nottingham: We are currently recr...

ICT Teacher

£120 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Group: We are looking for an outstandi...

Art & Design Teacher

£120 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Group: We are looking for an outstandi...

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering