PROFIT before exceptional items in Balfour Beatty’s Rail Engineering & Services sector fell by 27% to £32m in the year to December 31 2005, affected by Network Rail taking maintenance work in-house during 2004.

The fine incurred by Balfour Beatty Rail Infrastructure Services in respect of the Hatfield rail accident of 2000 had been provided for in previous years (RG 11.05 p676). Performance in the UK was otherwise ’steady’, helped by ’settlement income on old renewals contracts and good progress on the West Coast Main Line, London Underground track renewals and work at Heathrow Terminal 5.’

Performance ’continued to be good in Italy’, and improved in Germany, where electrification of the Nürnberg - Ingolstadt high speed line and tunnel work in Berlin were completed. However, there were ’continued difficulties on a major signalling contract in the USA’, with ’further losses’ sustained. The firm’s order book was augmented by work in Australia and electrification contracts on Britain’s West Coast Main Line. Track renewal activities for Network Rail and under the London Underground PPP were ’satisfactory’.

Operational performance at Metronet was ’broadly satisfactory’. Work is in hand to address delays which have occurred in the capital expenditure programme, particularly in station upgrades, and the company is ’at a preliminary stage of this very complex, long-term project. There will, inevitably, be many challenges for Metronet to address in conjunction with London Underground as the scope of the major system upgrades becomes clearer.’