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Friday, May 28, 1999 Published at 14:20 GMT 15:20 UK

Business: The Company File

Trains too wide for platforms

Up to 20 stations may need their platforms narrowing

Railtrack has admitted that two fleets of new trains for use in southern England are too wide to fit through the stations.

Simon Montague reports: "Railtrack will have to spend two million pounds shaving 10mm off the edges of platforms"
It is now having to spend £2m to trim platform edges by a few millimetres to allow the trains through.

The shaving of platforms has already been carried out on the Faversham to Dover line, in Kent, and other stations on the Hastings line north of Tonbridge, in the same county, are next for the remedial work.

As many as 20 stations could be affected.

'Mind the gap'

[ image: Railtrack: Is it sending the right signal to rail travellers?]
Railtrack: Is it sending the right signal to rail travellers?
Railtrack has denied that the new trains are too big and stressed that the problem stems from 'mind the gap' changes it is introducing on the distance between trains and platforms.

A Railtrack spokeswoman said: "This is nobody's fault.

"It's just that the new trains have additional equipment such as slightly wider stepboards and equipment that is below the platform level and we are shaving about 10mms off platforms."

The trains are part of a £170m order for new sliding-door carriages on south east England routes.

Railtrack is paying for the work at present, but may try to claim the money back later from either Derby trainmakers' Adtranz or train company Connex South Eastern.

The new Class 375 trains include 45 four-coach trains and 10 three coach ones and will replace old slam-door rolling stock.

"We hope to bring the new trains in as soon as possible," said a Connex South East spokesman.

The manufacturer has blamed Railtrack for failing to realise the trains were too wide.


Railtrack, the UK's track infrastructure company, is no stranger to controversy.

It hit the headlines for the wrong reasons earlier in the week. On this occasion it faced criticism for making too much money.

It made profits of £428m last year, which equates to £1.2m each day.

This lucrative line of business comes as critics say not enough money is being spent on the UK's ageing rail infrastructure.

Train delays are partly blamed on Railtrack and while shareholders may rub their hands in glee at the latest set of company results, train passengers are often left scratching their heads wanting to know when their dividend will come in the shape of an improved service.

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