CLIFFORD Chance is understood to be working flat out to finalise a crucial part of the British Rail network information system, said to be "fraught with problems", before privatisation starts in December.
Sources say the firm and other advisers will have their work cut out for them if they are able to meet the Government's tight deadline.
The firm, heavily involved in the privatisation project, has been appointed to advise on contractual elements of the "revenue allocation system". The system allocates revenue between the 25 different train-operating companies (TOCs). It will be part of a wider-ranging timetable system, which is not even built, say sources.
But a report on massive "delays" and "uncertainty" dogging the development of the revenue and timetable systems appeared in the latest issue of computing magazine Network Week. One rail franchisee said: "The system is fraught with problems. Railtrack has already failed to deliver a new time-tabling system."
Raj Parkash, Clifford Chance commercial partner working on the revenue system, said: "In no way can anyone make any comment on this subject."
Parkash is part of a team led by corporate partner Jeremy Brownlow which has advised the British Railways Board on all aspects of privatisation since its inception in mid-1993.
Their work includes contractual matters and establishing the business entities as stand-alone companies to be sold off.
Linklaters & Paines, led by corporate partner Len Berkowitz, advises the Government and regulator OPRAF.