Company demands greater efficiency as it increases spending on upgrades by £10bn over the next 10 years.
RAILTRACK was this week due to announce a radical intervention in the supply chains of the contractors it uses on hundreds of millions of pounds of building work.

David Meek, Britain's biggest client's director of contracts and supply, was due to outline Railtrack's supply-chain initiative in its announcement of future spending plans yesterday.

Railtrack was expected to announce that it will spend £27bn, £10bn more than estimated, upgrading railways and stations over the next 10 years.

To maximise value for money, Meek will lead a strategy to ensure efficiency throughout the firms it hires to carry out the work.

Building contractors working on a repeat, or "extended arm" basis, in five regions around the UK will be advised by Railtrack on which subcontractors they employ. Lovell, Kier, Taylor Woodrow and Laing are among the firms working for Railtrack on this basis.

Meek, who has recently finished overhauling Railtrack's track maintenance contract management, said: "We will no longer be giving extended arm contractors free rein to deal with their subcontractors.

"We want to get rid of issues like inefficiency and overmanning. We have taken a more interventionist role in our maintenance contracts – now we are going to do it again with the rest of our programme," he said.

Meek said it is even possible that, having intervened more closely in its main contractors' supply chains, Railtrack may find itself letting packages directly to subcontractors.

Railtrack is also planning to bring accreditation of its suppliers in-house, to give it closer control over the firms it deals with.

The company is also expected to confirm the redevelopment of York, Leeds, Newcastle and Edinburgh stations. Lines into Stansted, Manchester and Birmingham airports will be improved, and £1bn is to be set aside for an upgrade of the East Coast Main Line.

Railtrack's increased spending is in response to pressure from rail regulator Chris Bolt and train operators disgruntled about being blamed for track problems.