Working Smartly in Station Regeneration

Rail Professional - March 13

Network Rail is currently entering the final phase of the National Stations Improvement Programme, which issue to be completed in 2014. This has involved around £150 million worth of investment across a range of train I operating station areas. In CP5 we can look forward to a projected investment of £3.25 billion to further improve Britain's stations. So, how will the supply chain respond to this investment going forward?

I believe Network Rail is in an excellent position to benefit from the lacklustre economy. There is a tremendous opportunity for it to expect to see better value in the supply chain as it tenders these works.

There is greater competition in the market than there ever has been, and this is due to major contracting organisations and the supply chain having lost out on income in other construction sectors.

Those in the station supply chain need to avoid complacency. There are competitors who concentrated their efforts elsewhere and who are now looking to become active in the rail sector by pricing aggressively.

The supply chain wants this work, is hungry for this work, and it should respond positively and competitively as a result. This is superb news for Network Rail, but as a client, NR needs to be careful it does not contract at or below the market value, as this may lead to delays and disruption, and risks claims arising as a consequence.

Even though the south east has often been the centre for much of the recent historical station investment, CPS sees quite a nice geographic spread of investment, and one would hope that the supply chains in regional areas will also benefit from the diversity in investment this time around.

I was personally involved in the Station Regeneration Programme of the 19905, which saw a £1 billion investment in improving the state of station environments throughout the UK. The reality is that customer expectations evolve, and with the pace of technology as it is, these expectations are changing rapidly. When we were delivering station regeneration in the 19905, wi-fi was not even a term that was understood or recognised. Today people demand wi-fi as part of the infrastructure of their stations, or at least they expect it to be available.

I believe the market is also well-positioned to respond to Network Rail's continuing investment, which the construction sector badly needs. Yes, we have seen green shoots and signs that the tide is turning, but equally so, we've seen a threat of a potential triple dip recession. Therefore, the committed investment on this scale is to be much admired and embraced.

For that reason, it's essential the entire supply chain responds to this opportunity by working smarter, quicker and more safely on the railway. It is also imperative that the planning and delivering of these projects is done well to avoid delays or increased costs, whether these be borne by the client or the supply chain, as fragile companies may not be able to sustain losses off the back of recent trading conditions.

The continued investment from Network Rail is to be welcomed and applauded. Likewise, the focus on the quality of what is being produced today has to be commended. Designs are refreshing, and, with a well-positioned supply chain that is eager to contribute to the continued improvements to the UK rail network, I suggest CPs is a time to be positive and to welcome the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead.


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