The first of around 3,000 people moved into Network Rail’s new national centre in Milton Keynes today, putting the city at the centre of Britain’s railway operations and helping cut millions of pounds a year from the cost of running the railway.
The Quadrant:MK, as the new building is called, brings together teams from across the country under one eco-friendly roof, improving the way Network Rail coordinates activities to build a bigger and better railway.
The move to Milton Keynes is part of a programme of structural reform of Network Rail which has seen day-to-day control of the railway devolved to local level and the creation of a new, regional infrastructure projects business. Sitting at the centre of Network Rail’s operations, the national centre will provide support to the routes and regions based in places such as York, Glasgow, Cardiff and Birmingham.
Moving so many people to a single location will save Network Rail tens of millions of pounds a year in office rental costs, helping cut the cost of the railway and delivering better value for money for taxpayers and fare payers.
David Higgins, Network Rail chief executive, said: “The national centre is at the heart of our plans to improve the way we work and will help deliver a better and more efficient railway for passengers and freight. We’ll be bringing 3,000 people who play an integral part in the running of the railway into one location, complementing the changes we have already made to our business to bring us closer to our customers and more responsive to their needs.
“This is an exciting time for the rail industry. Over the next ten years, Britain’s rail traffic will increase by around a third, making ours the fastest growing railway in Europe. The railway is vital to Britain’s future economic success – connecting commerce and communities across the country. Our people based in Milton Keynes will play an integral part in its transformation.”
The new building sits on the site of the former national hockey stadium, revitalising an underused corner of central Milton Keynes and providing a huge boost to the local economy. Many of the 3,000 people moving to the Quadrant:MK are existing employees who are relocating to the area. In addition, Network Rail is recruiting 700 new roles at all levels and across all functions. Half of the successful candidates to date come from Milton Keynes and Northampton postcodes.
For those existing employees who have moved or are moving to Milton Keynes, a series of drop-in days, workshops, spouse support days and familiarisation tours have been put on over the last year to introduce people to Milton Keynes and all it has to offer. Network Rail has worked closely with a number of local stakeholders, notably Milton Keynes Council, to make sure people new to the area have all the support they need as well as information about housing, schools and leisure facilities.
Matthew Lutz works in human resources for Network Rail at the company’s MK Central office, which will close in September once the move into the Quadrant:MK is complete. He and his wife Charlotte, who also works for Network Rail in Milton Keynes, moved to the city from Birmingham in March 2011 looking for a better quality of life for them and their 10-year-old daughter.
“We’d been talking about moving away from Birmingham for a while,” said Matthew. “When the move to Milton Keynes came up at work, we agreed it was the right move for us as a family. I can’t wait to move into the new national centre and I certainly don’t miss the long daily commute.”
The 400,000 sq ft Quadrant:MK is at the forefront of new office developments in the country and is one of the most sustainable buildings in the country, with a combination of cutting-edge design and the latest environmentally-friendly features. The building is naturally ventilated with little reliance on air conditioning, uses recycled rainwater to flush toilets and draws power and heating from the local district energy scheme.
Tim Coucher, Network Rail project director for the Quadrant:MK, said: “The Quadrant:MK will bring more than environmental benefits. It will bring the right people together in a single location and improve the way we work across the business, creating an environment that encourages faster and smarter ways of working with great career opportunities.
“We chose Milton Keynes as the site for our new national centre because it offers a fantastic way of life, with all the amenities of a major city in the heart of the countryside. We’re committed to the city for the long-term and look forward to becoming part of the fabric of life here.”
Over the next three months, approximately 250-300 people will move into the Quadrant:MK each week, with the building fully operational in September.