NERC commissions Ramboll to provide technical consultancy in Antarctica

08 September 2016

The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) is to receive a new ship, the RRS Sir David Attenborough, in 2019. In preparation for the new vessel, Natural Environment Research Council has hired Ramboll to provide technical consultancy support and options to the upgrade of BAS’s wharf and jetties facilities, as well as provide technical advice to the team shifting the Halley Research Station and a number of other matters. The deal will last seven years – financial details of the agreement have not been disclosed.

The British Antarctic Survey was formed in the 1960s. BAS, which is part of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), has a number of permanent establishments in the Antarctica where it provides bases for research projects, run by more than 40 UK universities and 120 global organisations into a range of key issues. The organisation operates five bases across the Antarctic and local islands, two icebreaker ships and five planes. An additional ship, the RRS Sir David Attenborough, is currently under construction, and is set to be operational by 2019.

British Antarctic Survey hires Ramboll for Antarctic technical consultancy

As part of the funding for the new ship, support facilities in the Antarctic at various basis are to be upgraded or replaced, including wharf and jetties at BAS Antarctic and sub-Antarctic research stations. The upgrades will allow the new ship to safely berth and deploy its cargo. BAS is also moving parts of its Halley Research Station (HRS) on the Brunt Ice Shelf.

To develop options for the upgrade and to provide technical advice to teams involved in the moving of the HRS as well as advice on a number of other building, energy efficiency and logistical projects, NERC has hired professional services firm Ramboll. The seven year contract will see the firm offer specialist engineering and consultancy services to BAS. To perform the task the firm is sending in a multidisciplinary team to carry out the surveys and onsite support needed for the work – the team is keeping in mind that the seventh continent is one of the most desolate places on earth, with temperatures between 5°C to -60°C.

Dave Grove, Project Director at Ramboll says that the firm is “incredibly excited” to be working with such a ground-breaking research organisation. “BAS and Ramboll share many goals, including our desire to innovate and collaborate to deliver long-standing solutions that help both people and nature to flourish in our changing world,” he adds.

Speaking on Ramboll’s appointment, Tim Stockings, BAS Director of Operations says, ”The UK Government is making a major investment in Britain’s polar research capability. The commission by NERC of the RRS Sir David Attenborough provides an opportunity to modernise and upgrade our Antarctic infrastructure. The appointment of Ramboll brings specialist expertise to our in-house teams. We look forward to working together to develop and deliver well-engineered facilities that meet our shared ambitions for sustainability and excellence.”


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How data insights helped Network Rail improve the South-East route

11 April 2019

Amey Consulting has leveraged data insights to assist Network Rail with the improvement of its South-Eastern route. Using the Quartz tool, which monitors train movement, Network Rail will now be able to commit to data-enabled interventions to quickly improve underperforming train stations.

With rail services in the UK coming under strain from the demands of modern commuter life, while the infrastructure and service delivery of the nation’s railways has come in for sustained criticism in recent years, a period of regeneration is on the cards at last. Network Rail is the owner and infrastructure manager of most of the railway network in Great Britain, and has subsequently tapped the consulting industry on a regular basis to help find areas of improvement.

The group recently drafted in consultancy BearingPoint to conduct a thorough organisational evaluation and advise Network Rail (High Speed) on attaining a ‘fit for purpose’ organisational standard – for which the consultancy was nominated at the 2019 MCA Awards. Meanwhile, ArupArcadis and Aecom have been contracted to help Colas Rail and Babcock Rail implement a decade-long framework for Network Rail, aimed at supporting the delivery of the next generation of rail systems, with the contracts said to be worth as much as £5 billion

How data insights helped Network Rail improve the South-East route

As Network Rail further aims to improve its performance and customer service offering, another area it has sought help from the consulting sector for is its South-East route. The network of railways connects London with the southern parts of the country, as well as with Europe, making it the busiest in the country, with more than 500 million passenger journeys per year. This crucial expanse of rail was plagued with small minute delays, which were impacting millions of passengers every day, while reducing the efficiency and capacity of the overall network – something Amey Consulting was selected to help solve.

Amey Consulting soon determined that with the sub-threshold delays to services only lasting for 1 or 2 minutes, most were not the subject of detailed root cause analysis, and this made their corrections almost impossible – with dire consequences. Without addressing these delays, passenger satisfaction would fall, while the capacity and efficiency of the network would be reduced, stinging the income of Network Rail even before a host of delay-related fines would hit the company.

In order to help the client gain a better understanding of where, how, when and what these small delays occur, Amey Consulting looked to demonstrate the value of data-led consulting, with a significant reduction in delays within the first month of rolling out changes to key stations. The consultants embedded themselves in Network Rail’s team, helping them learn the key skills needed to support and apply data-driven solutions.

Agile transport

This involved the deployment of the Quartz tool. The system utilises to-the-second train movement data to present the performance of individual stations across the South-East route. It allows users to effortlessly understand station performance with a high level of detail, and use this information to identify losses caused by small-minute delays. The granular data allows for targeted actions to drive efficiency savings and performance improvements. More importantly, it allows users to understand the impact of small process changes on performance. 

Steve Dyke, an Executive Partner at Amey Consulting, said of the project, “We looked to identify the physical root cause on the infrastructure, building a case for change then managing that project implementation and tracking the benefit/value.  In doing so we are working to define a data performance improvement service to the operational and infrastructure owners.”

Just as important for the project as the technology, however, was teaching the Network Rail team how to leverage it after the consultants were gone. The Amey Consulting team worked to develop an agile working culture within Network Rail’s South-East division, helping staff to be confident in using data to improve the journeys of millions of people per year by attacking the problem from the ground up.

Dyke concluded, “This is less about the tools and about the approach to managing performance.  It meant using by-the-second analysis, data science, and then agile development to visualise and identify areas where improvements can be made.  We then worked with NR to change the way they approached the management of the infrastructure changes.  So rather than pass the information down the value chain, any of which could have been missed, we managed the change end-to-end.”

The project was so successful that Amey Consulting was also among those honoured at the recent MCA Awards. The firm scooped the Performance Improvement in the Public Sector prize for its work with Network Rail, at the 2019 ceremony in London.