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Network Rail blames Atos for downtime

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Network Rail has confirmed that problems with tech supplier Atos Origin on Wednesday meant it was unable to automatically update train departure boards as well as its offices losing access to the internet and external emails.

An insider told us that the failure, blamed internally on a Cisco router and a spanning-tree loop, had hit other Atos customers and the government portal www.gateway.gov.uk was also unavailable for some time.

Problems started at 1pm and were not fixed until 10pm.

A spokeswoman for Network Rail told the Reg: "External problems with our IT Service partner Atos Origin affected Network Rail’s systems including internet access, our helpline systems and the customer information screens and announcements. We worked with Atos throughout the day and into the night to restore services as quickly as possible. Train services were not affected and the information on these to passengers were updated manually.

"We are continuing to investigate with Atos Origin how this problem occurred and to resolve some ongoing issues. It would inappropriate to discuss any matters relating to potential compensation whilst this is ongoing, and is likely in any case commercially sensitive and so not something we discuss details about externally."

Network Rail is believed to be planning to hive off its infrastructure business into a separate business, construction website Building reports, which would bid for international contracts – best get those IT systems up to scratch first. ®

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