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Network Rail CEO Mark Carne tells MPs contractors will face 'significant penalties' over Christmas travel chaos

The Balfour Beatty consortium responsible for overrunning engineering works near Paddington that contributed to chaos for thousands of passengers over Christmas could be hit with a £200,000 penalty by Network Rail.

Network Rail chief executive Mark Carne today outlined details of the fines expected to be imposed on the contractors responsible for work that overran last month, resulting in the extended closure of both Paddington and King’s Cross stations on 27 December.

Quizzed by the Commons’ transport select committee, Mr Carne criticised the Signalling Solutions (SSL) consortium – which comprises Balfour Beatty and Alstom – for its handling of signal replacement work at Old Oak Common, near the west London terminal.

Mr Carne said that “there were clear failings in the way that work was executed”.

He added that there were “a range of penalties” Network Rail could apply, based on what he called the “risk-reward contract”, but that SSL’s would “be in the region of £200,000”.

Mr Carne also revealed that two competitors had come forward to offer to work with SSL “to improve the way it works”.

The contractor charged with simultaneous engineering work near King’s Cross – a joint venture between Amey and Sersa – will also be hit with fines, Mr Carne said.

He told MPs that these would be “25 per cent of the total award previously available to them”, adding that this amounted to “a significant penalty for the contractor”.

In a Network Rail report into the Christmas disruption, published earlier this week, the railway operator said it would launch a “thorough review” of SSL’s work processes in light of the overrun.

In that report, Mr Carne suggested Network Rail should consider reducing the amount of planned engineering and maintenance work traditionally undertaken during Christmas and other holiday periods.

He re-iterated those comments today, but warned the committee that while such a move could reduce costs in terms of contractors, it would likely result in more shutdowns across the network.

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