The Strategic Rail Authority has appointed two panels to keep projects on track.
The decision to create these advisory committees is intended to avoid the sort of problems that have hit the West Coast Main Line, where costs are expected to rise from £2bn to £10bn.

The first panel, which will operate for three years, will advise on project and commercial management and includes advisers from Arup, Bechtel, Bovis Lend Lease, EC Harris, Fluor, Franklin + Andrews, the Nichols Group and Pricewaterhouse Coopers.

The firms will oversee project organisation, costings and contractual management.

The second panel, which will advise on multidisciplinary technical services, will consist of Arup, Mott MacDonald, Booz Allen & Hamilton, Corus Rail Consultancy, AEA Technology, WS Atkins and Parsons Brinckerhoff.

These companies will oversee project specification, systems engineering, railways standards, timetables and performance tests and light rail and planning consents.

A spokesman for the SRA said the panellists would be asked to work on projects that matched their expertise and experience.

The panels will help to keep up momentum on these much-needed projects

Mike Grant, SRA chief executive

He said firms would work across a number of projects. Panellists were appointed after a notice in the European Union's Official Journal.

SRA chief executive Mike Grant said the panels were an important step in developing key projects. He said: "They will help to keep up the momentum on these much-needed projects, which are all of critical importance to the rail industry."

The SRA was set up in February to oversee the infrastructure of the UK rail network.

It took over the responsibilities formerly held by the Office of Passenger Rail Franchising and the British Railways Board.