Railtrack - History - Administration

Administration

Railtrack plc was placed into railway administration under the Railways Act 1993 on 7 October 2001, following an application to the High Court by the then Transport Secretary, Stephen Byers. This was effectively a form of bankruptcy protection that allowed the railway network to continue operating despite the financial problems of the operator. The parent company, Railtrack Group plc, was not put into administration and continued operating its other subsidiaries, which included property and telecommunications interests.

For most of the year in administration, the government's position had been that the new company would have to live within the existing regulatory settlement (£14.8 billion for the five years 2001-2006). However, it soon became obvious that that was impossible, and that the aftermath of the Hatfield crash had revealed that the network required significantly more money for its operation, maintenance and renewal. It was reported on 23 November 2001, that a further £3.5 billion may be needed to keep the national railway network running, a sum disputed by Ernst & Young, the administrators.

To get Railtrack out of administration, the government had to go back to the High Court and present evidence that the company was no longer insolvent. The principal reason given by the government to the court for this assertion was the decision of the rail regulator - announced on 22 September 2002 - to carry out an interim review of the company's finances, with the potential to advance significant additional sums to the company. The High Court accepted that the company was not therefore insolvent, and the railway administration order was discharged on 2 October 2002.

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