Railtrack was the name of a group of companies in the UK, which was from 1994 to 2002 in the possession of the tracks, signals, tunnels, bridges, level crossings and some stations of the privatized British railway network. Railtrack plc, the main part of the business was sold to the company Network Rail. The parent company Railtrack Group plc, which has been renamed to RT Group, is currently in voluntary liquidation and remained until 2008, there were, until the last liquidation payment to shareholders.
After the basic decision of the Conservative government of Prime Minister John Major Railtrack took over on 1 April 1994, the control of the railway infrastructure is in liquidation State Railways British Rail; from 1996 the company on the London Stock Exchange shares were traded. From the outset, Railtrack was heavily criticized for the poor quality of the maintenance work.
The heavy Zugunglücksfälle in Southall on 19 September 1997 ( six dead, 150 injured ) and Ladbroke Grove on 5 October 1999 (31 dead, over 500 injured) reinforced the public the impression that the level of safety on the UK rail network since privatization was greatly reduced. The train accident by Hatfield on October 17, 2000 ( four dead, 70 injured) proved to be a starting point for the collapse of Railtrack. As a result of this accident, the rails on the entire route network for breaks had to be assayed for and replaced; also was on many routes for several months a reduced speed limit. The cost of repairs amounted to over 580 million pounds. Meanwhile, running down the cost of upgrading the West Coast Main Line from the helm.
These and other factors led to the initially profitable business within a short time amassed a debt of 534 million pounds and was forced to ask the British government for subsidies. Railtrack caused a storm of controversy when she nevertheless paid off dividends in the amount of 137 million pounds to shareholders in May 2001. The Labour government felt betrayed itself. Transport Minister Stephen Byers put Railtrack plc on 7 October 2001 following a request to the High Court of Justice under compulsory liquidation. Critics accused the Labour Party to have Railtrack deliberately driven into bankruptcy, thereby at least partially to nationalize the British railways again.
Railtrack Group plc, the parent company, existed under the name of RT Group on. On 18 October 2002, the shareholders approved the voluntary liquidation of the company. The railway infrastructure was sold for £ 500 million to the newly founded non-profit company Network Rail. The proceeds from the sale of the remaining business sectors such as real estate and telecommunications served to compensate the shareholders at least partially. Was also sold the company on the Channel Tunnel Rail Link participation.
The shareholders of Railtrack formed two interest groups to demand higher compensation from the company. Both demanded by the British government for compensation, as they were at the time it was founded in 1994 when John Major was Prime Minister, deceived. The larger group, the Railtrack Action Group withdrew its lawsuit, as Railtrack plc was offering £ 2.62 compensation per share. The smaller group, the Railtrack Private Shareholders Action Group, insisted on their original demands. The trial of the Ministry of Transport in the High Court of Justice took place from 27 June to 21 July 2005. The court announced on 14 October that the action was dismissed. The interest group decided not to appeal the decision.