Looking for direction on Railtrack

Train times, fares and connections are all prone to last-minute changes, and no one organisation seems to be in command of all the facts and alternatives you need for a particular journey.

As a result, frustration, delay and last-minute uncertainty are emotions regularly suffered by rail users. These are also familiar emotions to two of Britain’s top accountants who appeared before the House of Commons select committee last week – Steve Marshall, Railtrack’s chief executive, and Ernst & Young’s Alan Bloom, the company’s administrative receiver.

Both are talented men with years of experience in running tough businesses.

And Railtrack, given its public importance, the age of the rail network and the safety issues involved, is a tough business at the best of times.

But neither stand a chance of doing this successfully if the government does not provide them with certainty and clarity about what is going to happen to the network in the future, and how far the government will be involved.

The tough journey that Railtrack now faces will only be successfully undertaken if those in charge of guiding it are given some clue as to where they are heading.

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