WEEKLY WEB WATCH: Railtrack hit by failure to meet targets

Organisation: Railtrack

Organisation: Railtrack

Issue: Rail Regulator fine

At: www.railtrack.co.uk

Railtrack has just published last year’s operating improvements,

announcing a ten per cent reduction in train delays over the last 12


However, the company’s regulatory body, the Rail Regulator, set

Railtrack a target of 12.7 per cent and promised to impose a fine of

pounds 4 million for each one per cent shortfall, which means that

Railtrack is liable to pay a fine of pounds 10 million. Railtrack is

appealing to the High Court.

The company believes the fine is in breach of the ’principle of

proportionality’ - CEO Gerald Corbett has said it is bizarre that the

penalty could lead to the highest fine in corporate history for an

improvement in service.

The site explains that Railtrack has lodged a judiciary appeal against

the proposed fine and that its ten per cent improvement in train delays

exceeds its own target of 7.5 per cent.

A Railtrack spokesperson said the site was regarded as an important

aspect of the communications strategy in targeting consumers and


However, the issue of the Rail Regulator’s expected fine is not made

apparent on Railtrack’s home page - the user must click on to the

operating improvements section to view the relevant information.

The home page of the Railtrack web site looks good, with a theme of

purple lines that appear to represent railway track and train signals.

The main areas that can be accessed are ’travel’, ’corporate’,

’shareholder’, ’freight’, ’major stations’ and ’major projects’. In the

’major stations’ section customers are given the opportunity to relay

any comments or criticisms they have of rail services.

There is also a separate banner for train timetables. When the user

clicks into the section they are invited to key in their starting

station and destination and are then presented with relevant times and

notification of any delays.

There is also a section called ’latest’ that posts news and issues, such

as progress on the Paddington crash enquiry. This is where information

on the Rail Regulator’s anticipated fine can be found, under ’Railtrack

announces end of year operating improvements’.

The statement announces that Railtrack has decreased train delays across

the network by 44 per cent over four years. Signal repeat failures are

down by 21 per cent and continued improvement in track quality is only

1.2 per cent short of its 2001 target.

Considering the excellent timetable service the site must attract a lot

of rail customers. It would therefore provide an ideal opportunity to

communicate the company’s view on the fine. Nonetheless, the site is

easily navigated, and full of information.

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