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Collaborative Delivery For Network Rail

31 July 2013

Costain, as part of the ABC Electrification Joint Venture with Alstom and Babcock, has started work on the collaborative delivery of Phase Three of Network Rail’s West Coast Power Supply Upgrade.

The £48m contract will see the West Coast main line (WCML) between Whitmore, south of Crewe, and Great Strickland near the Scottish border, upgraded as part of Network Rail’s £100 million West Coast power supply programme. The works, which are part of Network Rail’s £9.4bn investment in electrifying the national railway network, will lead to more frequent services, longer, greener trains and an improvement in the commuting experience for passengers.

For a project of this size, which requires a diverse range of skills and experience, the team has adopted a collaborative approach to delivering the project in line with BS 11000, a British Standard that provides a framework for creating and managing collaborative business relationships. BS 11000 allows teams to apply best practice principles to their own methods of working while getting the most out of their working relationships.

“Collaborative delivery is essential for the success of the project as the skills and disciplines required to complete it are very different, which presents a number of logistical challenges,” said Bob Halsey, the Project Director.

As well as the need to install power supplies and complicated overhead wiring, there is also a need for traditional civil engineering work such as substation development and other preparatory works. New troughing routes will be constructed and existing ones replaced where necessary, therefore being able to work in partnership is vital as it allows knowledge, skills and resources to be shared more effectively in order to meet mutual goals, said Bob.

Collaborative relationships also lead to better cost and risk management, as well as levels of innovation not normally achieved in a typical client-supplier relationship, thus enhancing competitiveness and performance. This approach is also in line with Costain’s Engineering Tomorrow strategy which aims to identify, develop and implement innovative solutions to meet the UK’s major national infrastructure needs.

Mark Berg, acting Managing Director of ABC, believes the partnership is well balanced and offers the project a broad range of specialist expertise.

“Alstom provides a significant presence in the UK for power supply technology while Babcock brings extensive experience of maintaining and renewing railway-specific infrastructure, and Costain offers major project and programme management experience,” said Mark.

The integrated project teams are being jointly led by Network Rail and ABC, which means the project can be run with a joint management team of around 70 managers and supervisors. A project of a similar size a few years ago would have required up to 100 people and maybe more, said Mark.

For this project, which is due to be completed by the end of June 2016, ABC is mobilising its own operational depot at Crewe to work alongside the integrated design and programme management team based in the new ABC offices in Rugby. The project teams are also hoping to reduce the length of the contract by at least six months through a process of driving out inefficiencies and reducing any potential delays.

“This is the first time that a collaborative approach to project delivery has been undertaken by the central electrification team. It's all about the best way for the businesses to collaborate. The teams are already seeing the benefits of working in this way through integrated planning, cost forecasting and reporting,” said Katie Ferrier, Network Rail’s Programme Manager.

By working as one team, ABC is able to reduce design queries from around 40 days to, on occasion, resolving any queries on the same day.

The team is currently looking at possession strategies for the WCML route and reviewing possessions that are already planned for other work, such as track renewals, to see what work it can do at the same time, which is again where collaborative delivery can be used to ensure the future success of the project.

“We are delighted to see the ABC Electrification come together in a project team that has been specifically designed to support Network Rail’s challenging electrification programme,” said Darren James, Costain’s Managing Director for Infrastructure.