Chief executive Iain Coucher says the expected compensation payments would not be passed on to contractors

Network Rail is facing a fine of more than £10m for the New Year rail engineering delays.

The rail company’s chief executive Iain Coucher admitted that compensation payments to travellers and train operators affected by the engineering delays over the new year’s period will “exceed £10m”.

He also said that the fine will not be passed on to contractors.

Coucher and Network Rail chairman Sir Ian McAllister and director of infrastructure investment Simon Kirby faced MPs’ questions in a transport select committee yesterday. Thomas M. McCarthy, senior vice president of contractor Bechtel also attended.

Coucher re-emphasised Network Rail’s objective to take in less agency staff. “In the future, we will do more on our own and rely less on agency workers.” Coucher said there would always be a role for agency workers to cover ad-hoc work, but generally Network Rail will employ less agency workers.

Contractor Bechtel employed around 80% of agency staff during the Christmas period. These presented the majority of workers who did not show up for work.

Bechtel’s McCarthy admitted that at one point the engineering project was understaffed by 50%, causing work to run late.

Network Rail and the Office of Rail Regulation are currently running investigations into the delays. The reports are expected to concluded next month.