Select Committee on Transport Written Evidence

Memorandum by David Dalton (FOR 118)


  I have been in correspondence with Network Rail concerning the condition of a heavily used section of railway line at my local station, Kings Norton, Birmingham. The track is used by Virgin intercity trains and also Central Trains fast and local services. Approximately six to eight trains pass over this section of track each hour.

  The track is jointed and I have noticed a deterioration in its condition over some months. I drew specific faults to the attention of Network Rail back in June and have had to pester them for adequate answers which I have never received a detailed reply to.

  A Temporary speed restriction was imposed by Network Rail on the section of track a few weeks after I wrote. I have been told that this was because of faults found by the Track Condition Recording Train.

  There are three points that concern me.

    (a)  Would the speed restriction have been imposed if the Track Condition Recording Train had not made a run over this particular section of track?

    (b)  I witnessed a Virgin Voyager train pass over the section of track at what I considered was an speed IN EXCESS of the Temporary Speed Restriction. When I wrote to Virgin Cross Country I was informed that no Temporary speed restriction existed!!!

    (c)  With the recent hot weather I understand that there was an increase in the number of rails buckling. The section of track I wrote about has clearly not had the required pre-hot weather maintenance carried out by Network Rail's contractors and I wonder what proportion of track buckles this year have been on jointed track and continuous welded track and what steps Network Rail are taking to ensure that the pre-hot weather maintenance/destressing that used to happen in British Rail days is being carried out?

  I may add that I am a former member of British Rail's Civil Engineering Department, Having had 30 years' service.

  I have pleasure in placing this statement before the Committee.

David Dalton

October 2003

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