Consultancies land £5 billion deals for new Network Rail framework

08 February 2019 3 min. read
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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.