Network Rail is pushing ahead with plans to reform project delivery which will save money across the 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 going causing frustration amongst suppliers and clients alike.
Rail chiefs claim 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.
Says Simon Kirby, Network Rail’s managing director investment projects, ‘This is 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.’
Rail chiefs have welcomed the news. Says Mark Davies, managing director Carillion Rail and Civil Engineering, ‘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, agrees, ‘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.’
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.
These include Balfour Beatty Rail in Scotland; Buckingham in the north west, Carillion in the north east and Colas – Morgan Sindall in the west. C Spencer and Volker Fitzpatrick will share the work in the south east.
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.