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Atkins results uncover scale of catch-up needed by Metronet

NEWS

LONDON Underground company Metronet will need to pull back delays on its capital works programme if returns on the first seven and half years of the deal are to remain on track.

Metronet, in which consultant WS Atkins has a 20 per cent stake, is in its second year of upgrading two-thirds of the London Underground network.

It has made a provision of £14 million for the potential late delivery of station improvements, of which Atkins' share will be around £3 million.

Chief executive Keith Clarke said: 'When we don't perform it hurts us.We have identified the issue and we are dealing with it.'

The news was revealed in Atkins' full year results.

A strong performance at its design and engineering arm for the period ending March helped the company combat a downturn in rail work and losses on a number of facilities management contracts.

Pre-tax profits fell 3 per cent to £60.1 million from £62 million on a turnover broadly flat at £955 million - up less than 1 per cent from £950.4 million.

But underlying pre-tax profits rose by 31 per cent to £73.6 million, up from £56.2 million a year earlier.

The company said cost-cutting on the railways affected profits in its transport division but the drop in work is expected to be temporary.Mr Clarke added that he was expecting the Government to increase its spending on roads.

Atkins said it has built on its core businesses following a top-to-bottom turnaround in 2004 after problems it had implementing a new IT system.