Mott MacDonald hired for Kew Capital Development Programme

04 July 2017

The Kew Capital Development Programme has hired Mott MacDonald to lead the refurbishment of the town’s Royal Botanical Garden’s facilities. The firm will provide a range of engineering and consultancy services to the project to modernise the gardens which date back to the late 1700s.

Kew’s Royal Botanic Gardens are one of the UK’s most iconic destinations for plant and fungi lovers. The gardens, which are situated in Kew in west London and Wakehurst in Sussex, provide visitors and plant researchers with a haven to explore the diversity of plants. The locations attracted around 1.6 million visitors last years, supported by a staff of around 800. In total Kew hosts around 180,000 living plants, over two billion wild plant seeds at the Millennium Seed Bank and a historic library collections.

Kew is also active in research, with more than 140 papers making their way into high impact journals last year. The dual tourist/research nature of the Kew’s economy means that it effectively raise awareness on key issues, from loss of biodiversity to how plants affect human well-being. Last year The Prince of Wales became Patron of the Royal Botanic Gardens.

Mott MacDonald hired for  Kew Capital Development Programme

Recently Kew announced its Kew Capital Development Programme (KCDP). The programme is set to run over a five-year period, and invests around £50 million into upgrading the facilities at the two locations. The work includes, among others, new builds, refurbishment the Grade I and Grade II historic listed buildings, and repair and replacement of the M&E systems for the London site, as well as roof repairs at the Grade I listed Mansion in Wakehurst in Sussex.

Since the development commenced, Mott MacDonald has been appointed as lead of a multidisciplinary team to enact the KCDP. The firm will leverage its expertise in building, structural and civil engineering, project management and cost consultancy to deliver the project outcomes, including the refurbishment of iconic buildings such as Kew’s Victorian Palm House, designing and building new nurseries and catering facilities, and critical infrastructure projects at both sites. The firm has drawn on support from various architects to develop design directions for the projects.

Remarking on the project, Mott MacDonald’s project director Rob Hilton said, “This programme brings together a diverse team of market-leading specialists from the fields of heritage, landscape, architecture, engineering and construction. The unique environments involved and the ambitious, transformational projects will make this a thoroughly rewarding programme that heightens the way people experience these iconic gardens and will support RBG Kew in delivering their vision well into the future.”


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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.