Network Rail is to bring 500 Amey-Colas contractor staff in-house.
The workers will join the rail-infrastructure operator’s high-output track renewals team.
It is the largest people transfer into Network Rail since the phased insource of maintenance activities in 2005.
High output project director Ben Brooks said: “The move will give us greater opportunity to drive continuous improvement in both safety and performance on site.
“It is fundamental to delivering our cost efficiencies and also allows longer term investment in training and development for the high output workforce, our fleet and maintenance facilities.”
New ballast cleaner
Network Rail has also purchased a £50M ballast cleaner to reduce fuel consumption and boost operational efficiency.
The BCS5 ballast cleaner also aims to reduce workforce exposure to ballast dust, including mist-based suppression systems.
The new cleaner will be built for ‘third-rail’ operation, allowing the conductor rail to safely remain in place throughout the cleaning process, Network Rail said.
Supplied by rail equipment manufacturer Plasser & Theurer, the purpose-built kit and associated support plant is due to be delivered in 2016.
Brooks said: “With the purchase of the new ballast cleaner and the insourcing of 500 staff who previously contracted for us, Network Rail is taking more direct control of its high output ballast cleaning and track relaying operations; activities core to its day-to-day business.
“Network Rail is completing mechanised track renewals overnight in short duration access and handing back the railway at higher speeds than attainable with conventional methods. The new equipment allows us to add the third rail DC electrified network to our programme so passengers south of London can start to see the benefits of high output track renewals too.”