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New Rail Director Goes For Expansion

29 November 2010

The Costain Group has made a key appointment as part of its strategy to meet further the needs of the UK rail industry. 

Gren Edwards, the Company's Rail Sector Director, wants to broaden Costain's capability. The Company is already known in the sector as a major project deliverer. Edwards wants to build on that by adding new, specialist railway skills including track electrification, signalling and specialised plant to turn it into a multi-disciplinary organisation that can provide a turnkey service for clients.

Acquisition may be one route.  Costain's Board has made it clear in the past that acquisitions in sectors in which the Group aims to play a major role, such as rail, nuclear or water, are possible to bolster the Company's position in the marketplace.

The potential prizes in transforming the market's perception of Costain into a full-service rail contractor are considerable. Like the water sector, rail emerged almost unscathed from the Government's Comprehensive Spending Review. Not only does this mean major projects such as Crossrail and Thameslink going ahead but Network Rail can continue its 'enhancement programme' that aims to remove bottlenecks on the country's rail system.

These enhancement projects may not attract as many headlines as major schemes such as Crossrail and Thameslink, but they are vital to unlock capacity on the network and account for more than £1billion of contracts each year.

Additionally, says Edwards, London Underground (LU) and overground rail networks remain a key prospect in coming years. Considerable amounts of work will be available, not just in construction but care and maintenance.

This is where Costain needs to position itself, he says, so it can offer a complete portfolio of services that range from consultancy work at the outset of contracts right through the project construction phase and into care and maintenance thereafter.

Edwards has considerable experience to handle Costain's expansion in the sector. As former Chief Executive of Volker Rail, a specialist rail contractor, he knows the types of skills that will be required for Costain to break through into key stakeholder status and tap into a steady stream of work. A geologist by training, he also qualified in mining and quarrying engineering and his previous posts have included metals exploration, operations management in the extractive industries and managing British Steel plants.