Published: 10th March 2014
The massive electrification investment in Britain’s railways was highlighted at a formal signing ceremony at The Institute of Civil Engineers in London. Network Rail (NR) will deliver a £4 BILLION programme which will see two thousand miles of track put under the wires between now and 2021. This will make the rail network more efficient, cleaner and intended to offer a more reliable railway to passengers and freight users.
In the last five years only £200million was spent so the huge increase can easily be seen - which is why a new approach had to be devised.
NR has appointed four suppliers to deliver the project over the next seven years covering six regional areas. The four successful bidders are ABC Electrification, AmeyInabensa, Balfour Beatty and Carillion Powerlines who will, under NR’s instructions, plan and deliver the range of schemes across the UK. These have already been announced but the appointment of contractors is a major step forward. Each contract has an option of a three-year extension at the end of it.
Four regional framework areas have been created. Scottish Northeast, Central, Southern and Wales and Western.
Routes to be ‘juiced’ for the first time are between Paddington, Swansea, the Cardiff Valley lines and Bristol, plus from Bedford to Sheffield, Liverpool to Manchester and Preston. In addition, what is being called the ‘electric spine’ between Southampton to Basingstoke, Oxford to Coventry plus Rugeley to Walsall is being created.
These schemes will interconnect with existing electrified routes and once the work has been done, 51% of Britain’s rail network will be electrified but 75% of all traffic will be electrically powered.
Simon Kirby, managing director of Network Rail’s infrastructure projects division signed on behalf of the client, NR, while the four contractors also signed the one framework agreement. He will soon be moving to the HS2 Project bringing his wealth of experience to the project.
Simon Kirby said: “Our work to electrify two thousand track miles represents the biggest programme of rail electrification in a generation and will provide faster, quieter and more reliable journeys for millions of passengers every week while cutting the cost of the railway.
“Thanks to a firm commitment from government to invest in electrification schemes across the country, we are transforming the railway and providing Britain with a sustainable, world-class transport system that is fit for the future. To deliver this work in the safest and most efficient way possible, we need to make the most of the huge potential within our supply chain.”
Jeremy Candfield, director general of the Railway Industry Association, commented: “This is a major and very welcome step in the transformation of the railway. It will encourage suppliers to invest in the training and equipment needed for the growing national electrification programme and pave the way for suppliers’ greater involvement to maximise the efficient delivery of the projects.”
The scale of the work means that everyone will need to work together to ensure that the supply chain is not overwhelmed. Many engineers will be required and NR is undertaking a conversion project where existing engineers can be retrained into the required disciplines.
Each supplier will have a specific set of contracts in place detailing schemes to be delivered and this approach has been welcomed by the supply chain and the RIA. It also means that each supplier will be able to invest in training and development. The Rail Industry Association (RIA) will be working with NR which will set up a Network Rail Electrification Training Academy, and will fund the associated investment required.
The Rail Electrification Development Programme has been introduced as has a Rail Electrification Delivery Group to oversee the training and development part of the project is delivered. Training facilities at York and Paddock Wood will be developed and well used!
The project costs it was announced, will be kept down by sharing knowledge and innovation between the four contractors and NR. This will also bring improvements in the reliability of electrification technology – something which has let passengers down on the East Coast Man Line which when electrified, was done as cheaply as possible under Government instructions and is not a reflection on those involved.
Simon Kirby said that With billions of pounds set to be invested in electrification schemes over the next decade, and with many projects at different stages of development, it is absolutely vital that the supply market gets a clear, consistent message from Network Rail about what the company needs from its supply partners, where and when.
“The framework approach chosen by Network Rail gives suppliers a greater degree of certainty about the company’s pipeline of work and means suppliers can target investment so they have the right people with the right skills in the right parts of the country to deliver schemes which will improve our railway and boost economic growth.”
The Regional frameworks are as follows;
Southern region: AmeyInabensa
Central (London North Western, South) region: ABC
Central (East Midlands) region: CarillionPowerlines
Central (London North Western, North) region: Balfour Beatty
Scotland & North East region: CarillionPowerlines
Western & Wales region: ABC
As an example of one joint venture, Alstom is part of the ABC consortium which will do work valued at around £900 million. ABC is an incorporated, equal share joint venture comprising Alstom, Babcock and Costain and has been awarded London North Western, South region and the Wales and West region, Valley Lines.
Network Rail is one of the largest energy distributors in Britain with the rail network literally alive with electricity. They use over 3 TWh annually costing over £250 million and they are looking for electrical engineers.