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Wednesday 30th
posted by Steve Sweeney in Britain

RAIL workers’ union RMT clashed with Network Rail bosses yesterday after delays to engineering works at London’s Waterloo station.

The union said staff deserved praise after working a punishing schedule to lay 1,389 yards of track and seven miles of cable.

Engineering works were scheduled to finish on Monday but ran over by a day, leading to delays and cancellations at London’s busiest rail station.

The £800 million overhaul of Waterloo was one of Network Rail’s biggest and most ambitious projects to date with works continuing for the past month.

Despite the “punishing schedule” for workers, rail users had services disrupted, delayed or cancelled altogether.

NR chief executive Mark Carne apologised to passengers for the delays yesterday but said the project would make a “huge difference” in the long run. But RMT general secretary Mick Cash said the union’s engineering members had worked fl at-out against the clock to hit punishing schedules and deserved nothing but praise for their efforts.

“The financial beneficiaries of all this effort and public investment are the new Chinese owners of South Western Trains, who will be able to cream off even fatter profits from longer and more frequent services without stumping up a penny piece for the new infrastructure costs,” he said.

Mr Cash said the company is benefiting “big-time” from the taxpayer and must honour the longstanding agreement to keep the safety-critical guard on South Western trains.

A Network Rail spokesman said: “The upgrades taking place at Waterloo station are some of the biggest and most complex engineering projects ever undertaken on the railway.

“We are working hard to minimise delays to passengers, but safety is our number-one priority.”