Rail Sector Surges Ahead

30 April 2014

Today, the Costain Rail sector is the largest section of the Company – with 450 staff and some of the UK’s most significant rail contracts in its portfolio.

Acceleration has been rapid. Three years ago, rail was bringing in £40 million a year. Last year, that increased to £250 million.

Several factors are behind the growth. One was the arrival in late 2010 of Gren Edwards as Rail Sector Director.

Gren was already a ‘name’ in the rail industry, having been chief executive of specialist contractor Volker Rail: “Network Rail knew me and I’ve delivered all sorts of work for them over the last 20 years.”

He arrived with the ambition of broadening Costain’s reputation in the sector from that of a major project deliverer to one that included specialist railway skills such as track electrification, signalling and specialised plant, to turn it into a multi-disciplinary organisation.

A second factor was a breakthrough contract to remodel London’s historic Farringdon Station, which serves both overground and London Underground trains and underwent a major expansion to ready it for expanded Thameslink and future Crossrail services.

“Farringdon was the first project and we gained the trust of Network Rail due to our fantastic work there,” said Ross MacKenzie, Customer Director, Rail. “Farringdon wasn’t the entire story, but the delivery there allowed us to win the Reading and London Bridge jobs.

“We’ve been able to come in and do things differently, bringing construction professionalism to the railway. We have major project experience; within Costain, we have highly-qualified engineers and it doesn’t matter if they work in the water or highways sectors, they’re used to solving problems and being able to bring in experience from other areas.”

One major indicator of Costain’s success on the railways has been its winning of no fewer than 11 contracts with Crossrail – more than any other major company.

“That gives us a volume of work in our core business,” said Ross. “On top of that, we’re working on ‘breadth’, to move into other areas.”

Overall, however, the future of rail work is looking good: “All the contracts we’re working on at the moment continue for at least two to three years,” said Gren. “There’s £300 million of sustainable work for the next two to three years, in addition to other types of projects.”

Next on the horizon is the huge High Speed 2 rail route due to slice journey times between London, Birmingham and beyond.  If it gets the political green light, work is due to start around the end of this year.

Gren and the team continue to pursue work across the full spectrum of the railway for all our customers (Network Rail, LUL and soon HS2), while continuing to deliver Crossrail, which continues  until 2018.