Network Rail selects consultancies for £600 million digital framework

30 May 2019 3 min. read
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Network Rail has appointed professional services firms Atkins, Atos, BAE Systems, Capita, Cognizant, Deloitte, DXC, Fujitsu, Resonate Group and a consortium of EY and Capgemini to its IT solution delivery framework. The contract, worth over £600 million over five years, covers the provision of specialist IT support for operational and corporate activities.

Network Rail is the owner and infrastructure manager of most of the railway network in Great Britain, and while the infrastructure and service delivery of the nation’s railways has come in for sustained criticism in recent years, it has subsequently tapped the consulting industry on a regular basis to help find areas of improvement. Recently this saw the group draft in consultancy BearingPoint to conduct a thorough organisational evaluation and advise Network Rail (High Speed) on attaining a ‘fit for purpose’ organisational standard.

Amey Consulting was also asked to leverage data insights to assist Network Rail with the improvement of its South-Eastern route. Elsewhere, Arup, Arcadis 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. 

Network Rail selects consultancies for £600 million framework

Digital Railway Programme

Now, Network Rail has announced the placing of 11 professional services firms on a delivery framework for a major initiative in the field. The Digital Railway Programme, which follows Transport for London’s example in using technology to release additional capacity on the network, involves a collection of regional digital railway schemes, and has a long-term aim beyond 2027 to situate digital as the norm in command, control and signalling capabilities.

In order to achieve this, Atkins, Atos, BAE Systems Applied Intelligence, Capita, Cognizant, Deloitte, DXC, Fujitsu, Resonate Group and a consortium of EY and Capgemini have been named as the providers for the framework. The contract is scheduled to run over the next five years and has a projected value of up to £605 million, depending on the volume of business. Network Rail will use the framework for specialist IT support in its operational and corporate activities, with the contract notice pointing to its need for support in a wide range of areas.

About two-thirds of the rail network’s signalling system needs to be replaced in the next 15 years, and the costs of renewing conventionally are expected to rise dramatically over the next 5 years. This is a significant affordability and deliverability challenge for the industry. As a result, the industry must adopt a different approach, introducing digital technologies and new ways of working to replace conventional signalling systems at a lower whole life cost.

Main objective of the The Digital Railway Programme are to improve capacity constraints. These are often caused by the limitations of conventional signalling systems, with digital technologies able help to address these critical ‘pinch-points’

Network Rail's programme also seeks to make its operations more efficient (using digital technologies and new ways of working, conventional signalling systems can be replaced at a lower whole) and enhancing the safety of both passengers and trackside workers.

Related: Europe’s best train systems, UK railway poor in service quality.