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Network Rail opens up competition for £5bn worth of track upgrades

Network Rail has started the search for contractors to deliver up to £5bn of track works across the UK over the next 10 years as part of the rail organisation’s biggest programme of rail modernisation since the Victorian era.

It is the largest competition of its kind being undertaken by the rail organisation for the upcoming five-year funding period which ends in 2024. These contracts cover 10 years of railway track works starting next year and introduce three new geographically-focused alliances between Network Rail, designers and construction suppliers.

The tender covers the development, design and delivery of plain line track and switches and crossings, as well as associated infrastructure works for each area. Network Rail has issued a prior information notice via the Official Journal of the European Union.

The alliances will cover the following areas:

  • Alliance 1: North Alliance (Scotland Route); 
  • Alliance 2: Central Alliance (London North West, London North East and East Midland routes); 
  • Alliance 3: South Alliance; (Anglia, South East, Wessex, Western and Wales routes)

This move is a key component of Network Rail’s Infrastructure Projects CP6 procurement strategy, which aims to promote collaborative arrangements with the supply chain that offer better value for money for devolved route customers.

Steve Featherstone, Network Rail’s director for Track, said: “Combining our plain line expertise with that of switches & crossings will bring huge benefits to both our route customers and the wider supply chain. The proven alliance model offers a flexible and cost-effective solution with a greater focus on each route’s specific requirements and needs.”

The maintenance and renewal of Britain’s 20,000 miles of track forms part of Network Rail’s Railway Upgrade Plan, which sees £130m invested every single week on improvements for passengers. As a result, by 2019 there will be an extra 170,000 seats into major cities across the country every single day, with 6,400 extra train services and 5,500 new train carriages – a 30% increase in capacity.

The pre-qualification period for the tender will start this month and given the large scale and long-term nature of the contracts, prospective bidders will be expected to “exhibit their commitment to delivering value through the relentless pursuit of excellence, highly innovative approaches, and a demonstrable track record of success in collaborative environments”, according to Network Rail.

Full details on the tender and information of where suppliers can register their interest, can be found here.