RAILTRACK IS calling in the British Army to help deliver its long awaited £2.2bn West Coast Main Line upgrade, directors revealed this week.
The company has approached the Royal Corps of Logistics to advise on how to get millions of tonnes of ballast, sleepers and rails to site within the tight time scales of night time and weekend track possessions.
Speaking on Monday, West Coast Route Modernisation general manager Tony Fletcher said: 'We have made initial contact with the army and have tentatively formed the basis of a commercial consulting contract.'
The move follows criticism from rail industry suppliers and train operators that Railtrack is leaving too little time to complete phase one of the project (NCE 11 February). With just 976 days to go before the line has to start carrying Virgin's new fleet of 200km/h tilting trains, only £600M of work has been let.
'Without a high level of assurance on our construction activities, this programme could drift out years and that would be a disaster for us,' he said. 'We need to apply military type planning and to rehearse operations before they get to site,' said Fletcher.
Officers will be asked to attend project meetings and appraise Railtrack's 'integrated logistics plan', due for completion by the end of October. Railtrack has approached logistics specialists Excel and Wincanton to offer advice and is establishing 'centres of excellence' for contractors to practise work activities.