Network Rail today announced the next stage of its plans to reform project delivery to save money in the rail industry. Projects will be delivered more quickly as successful suppliers will be on standby - ready to go - rather than having to enter another bid process to win work.
The time it takes to deliver ‘multi asset framework agreement’ (MAFA) projects - which combine signalling, track and civils - will be cut from months to weeks. In the past some of these have taken up to eleven months to get up and running causing frustration for Network Rail’s clients and putting off potential investors
The cost of delivery on these projects will be cut by up to 20%
Six suppliers have been selected with the first work already under way in the Manchester area. In total £750m of work will be delivered under the plans
Simon Kirby, Network Rail’s managing director investment projects, stated: “This us our commitment to changing the way that we work with our suppliers. Partnership breeds innovation, cuts duplication, saves money and delivers more quickly for our customers. The geographic focus of the contracts will build closer relations bringing a greater understanding of our safety culture and the need to minimise the impact of work on the travelling public.”
Welcoming the news, Mark Davies, managing director Carillion Rail and Civil Engineering said: “We are delighted to have been awarded this contract for work associated with the East Coast main line upgrade, Midland main line line-speed improvement and other key enhancement projects, including freight upgrades. This opportunity allows Carillion to continue its strong working relationship with Network Rail, delivering targeted efficiency savings with world class safety standards.”
Alan McCarthy-Wyper, director and general manager Balfour Beatty Rail, commented: “The recasting of MAFA frameworks has the potential to significantly enhance the industry’s ability to deliver this type of work. Partnering with its supply chain in this manner will provide the framework for Network Rail to improve safety culture and deliver project efficiencies across its national work bank. It’s a privilege to have been selected to partner with Network Rail supporting them over the coming years.”
Stronger, regionally focused partnerships
The plans see Network Rail creating stronger relations with six suppliers (under MAFA). This will provide them with greater certainty on work volumes, addressing a concern with current MAFA arrangements where work is shared across the country between 14 different suppliers.
The successful suppliers will work with Network Rail far earlier in the design phase, enabling the industry to better build in safety and innovation. Being responsible for a particular region will align suppliers with Network Rail’s new route based structure.
First benefits delivered this year
Across the country, small and medium-sized projects will be delivered in this way. The first areas to benefit are around Manchester, where Buckingham Group has already begun work on a package that will see them design and construct twenty-two platform extensions at 14 stations by the end of the year.
Simon Walkley, rail director for Buckingham Group, said: “We welcome the move to much earlier involvement in these projects. The early signs are good. We have already been given some early challenges and we have seen a more co-operative and open approach by a Network Rail team that is showing the necessary open approach and positive attitude to deliver the projects safely whilst securing the targeted efficiencies.”
This is the latest part of Network Rail’s plans to change the landscape of project delivery on the railway:
In April 2011 Network Rail announced plans to work more closely with suppliers from an earlier stage on some of its most significant major programmes. In July Invensys Rail Ltd was selected to undertake the design and delivery of one of Britain’s biggest ever resignalling schemes in the London Bridge station area.
In June 2011, Network Rail unveiled plans to overhaul its project management capability. The plans are in their formative stage, with the current view being to create a new business unit within the Network Rail group and a new client function capable of bidding, contracting and managing the future capital projects work bank from within the routes or nationally.
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