Mott MacDonald hired to support Hay Castle restoration

12 May 2017

Hay Castle, one of the UK's older castles, is to be revamped in a £5 million restoration project. The project will focus on restoring key parts of the keep for permanent preservation of the historic site. Mott MacDonald has been hired to provide a range of engineering and consultancy work for the project.

Hay Castle is located in the small Welsh town of Hay-on-Wye in Powys. The castle was built as part of medieval fortification around 1200, as part of the Norman invasion of Wales. The castle has had an up and down history, burnt down several times during various wars throughout the ages, before becoming a private home in the 17th century. In 1939 and 1977 the home was gutted by fire, with the repairs not sufficient to save the Hay Castle – which fell into dereliction by the 21st century.

Back to its former glory

In a bid to bring the castle back to its former glory, the Hay Castle Trust acquired the building in 2011. The trust’s stated goal for the building is the permanent preservation of the historic site. Following various planning permission requirements, the restoration project, which received Heritage Lottery Fund support a while back, was recently announced as off the ground.

Mott MacDonald provides project management, design and technical advisory to Hay Castle restoration

The restoration work is focused on restoring the areas most at risk, including the medieval keep and archway, Jacobean mansion and service wing, as well as the castle’s ancient gate, the oldest of its kind in the UK. In addition, a connection between the castle and town will be recreated, creating indirect economic benefits for the area.

Mott MacDonald has been commissioned by the Trust to deliver project management, design and technical advisory services to the project. The firm’s team, led by Mark Smith, Mott MacDonald’s Project Director, will focus on mechanical and electrical, fire engineering and infrastructure design services. The firm will, in addition, take responsibility for “procurement and tender processes and project managing the pre-construction and constructions phases of the project, from technical design through to handover.”

Commenting on the firm’s role in the £5 million project, Smith said, “We are bringing both innovative and tried and tested solutions to this project taken from our experience of working in the heritage sector. With projects of this nature we actively manage risk at every stage, which has been a key feature of our past service delivery and a major contributing factor to our success. Mott MacDonald also has a proven track-record on projects across the UK funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. We are experienced in supporting external funding applications and the management of business cases to support such schemes.”


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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.