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Network Rail admits Jarvis won't be fined

Principal contractor on the West Coast main line Jarvis will not incur a penalty for failing to supply promised engineers, Network Rail has admitted.

Network Rail chief executive Iain Coucher said the firm had no penalty clause in its contract and also admitted he still did not know why up to half of the Jarvis specialist team had not turned up, more than three weeks into an internal inquiry.

But a number of unlucky contractors on the job, whose contract included the penalty clause, could end up paying for the delays.

A shortage of overhead linesmen meant engineering works on the West Coast mainline at Rugby that should have been completed by 30 December overran by four days.

There was further chaos in London when late-running work at busy Liverpool Street station forced its last-minute closure ahead of the big return to work.

The Commons transport committee heard Jarvis had supplied a list of specialist overhead linesmen it would be using for the work at Rugby to allay fears about overruns.

In the event many simply did not turn up, up to half of the 70-strong team at one point, and attempts by Network Rail to recruit others at short notice proved fruitless.

So far however Jarvis had not provided a satisfactory justification, the MPs heard from a representative of Bechtel.

Asked if they would be penalised for the failure to provide the workers, Mr Coucher said: “They will get paid for some work but not all of it but there's no penalty; we can't flow down the extra costs that we incur down to them.''

This is because in the past contractors simply have not received additional work if they failed to complete a job on time.