The financial week ahead – Railtrack under fire.

The future of embattled rail provider Railtrack is hanging in the balance this autumn, with interim results due out next Monday.

Last week chief executive Gerald Corbett faced widespread calls for his resignation as he was also hauled before the Commons Transport Select Committee to explain the Hatfield crash.

The Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) called for Railtrack to be stripped of its safety and accident investigation role at the Cullen rail safety inquiry last month. Former FD of Grand Metropolitan, Corbett has been attacked for knowing more about finance than engineering – but he has secured an easy ride for Railtrack finances from regulator Tom Winsor, who last month published his five-year plan to 2006.

Shareholders will at least find comfort with the company’s revenue for the next five year jumping to #14.9bn from #10bn for the first five years following privatisation, and the government grant over the period will total #4.7bn.

Steven Marshall, Railtrack’s finance director, said: ‘Tom Winsor wants to see investment in the railways and he acknowledges the need for us to raise the finance to do so.’

Railtrack this summer revealed a profits slide from £428m to £420m for the first time in its five years in business – blaming a £750m shortfall from the £2.2bn train operators shell out for use of the rail system each year and a £2bn rail update programme by 2001.

Marshall earlier this year also came in for severe criticism for taking a salary of £137,000 including a £37,000 bonus after last year’s Paddington crash.

The 43-year-old former FD of Thorn worked with Corbett at Grand Metropolitan as FD of the international drinks division.

A CIMA fellow and member of the 100 Group of Finance Directors, Marshall replaced predecessor 48-year-old chartered accountant Norman Broadhurst last year.

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