Consultancies land £5 billion deals for new Network Rail framework

08 February 2019 Consultancy.uk

A trio of consulting firms are among the companies to have won contracts to implement Network Rail’s new framework. Arup, Arcadis and Aecom will help Colas Rail and Babcock Rail implement a decade-long framework, aimed at supporting the delivery of the next generation of rail systems, with the contracts said to be worth as much as £5 billion.

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. As a result, Network Rail, the owner and infrastructure manager of most of the railway network in Great Britain, has awarded a number of key contracts for the delivery of what it is calling the “next generation of rail systems.”

Network Rail has commenced its process of filling the framework for its control period 6 (CP6) contracts, following the Office of Rail and Road’s final determination, which was confirmed as £35 billion for rail maintenance and renewals. The 10-year contracts will run for an initial five-year period between 2019 and 2024, but will come with an option to extend for a further five depending on performance and need.

Consultancies land £5 billion deals for new Network Rail framework

The contracts are divided into three new geographically-focused alliances between Network Rail, designers and construction suppliers. These are the North Alliance (Scotland route); Central Alliance (London North West, London North East and East Midlands route) and South Alliance (Anglia, South East, Wessex, Western and Wales routes).

The latest and most substantial of the awards has seen Network Rail hand the track and rail system alliances in the South to Colas Rail and Aecom, and in Scotland to Babcock Rail, Arup and Arcadis, following a lengthy tender period. The contracts are worth an estimated £5 billion, and the framework they require the firms to adhere to will include “anything needed to make the rail system work” including track, points, overhead lines and signalling.

The awards leave only the Central Alliance bidding process on-going, with a preferred bidder set to be announced following final verification and internal approvals by Network Rail, according to New Civil Engineer. Speaking to the industry publication, Network Rail Programme Director Track Steve Featherstone said that this milestone ensures the organisation has a stable foundation for the delivery of Britain’s core railway infrastructure for the next decade, and “allows us to better align to the routes and ultimately, deliver for customers.”

Arup was recently the recipient of another Network Rail contract. The engineering and construction consultancy was appointed to oversee the masterplan efforts of Edinburgh’s Waverley Station. Meanwhile, Arcadis won a four-year role with Highways England to provide project control services to Highways England’s road investment strategy before 2022. Elsewhere, AECOM was awarded a contract by Transport Scotland earlier in 2019 to lead its second Strategic Transport Projects Review, alongside professional services firm Jacobs.

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

11 April 2019 Consultancy.uk

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.