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Clients want better in-house engineering

UK road and rail clients are seeking to cut costs by improving their in-house engineering resources, NCE has learnt.

Network Rail and the Highways Agency have admitted that they are uncertain whether their current internal engineering operations are providing value for money.

Representatives from both expressed these views at NCE’s latest More for Less round table discussion (see page 16).

Network Rail programme director for efficient infrastructure delivery Ian Ballentine said the company was reanalysing relationships between its own engineers and external consultants.

At present, initial consultant designs are evaluated by Network Rail engineers, who “move it around”, he said. In future, this evaluation will be moved further down the design chain where “they can add most value to the process”, he added.

“Return on investment is a question mark”

Nirmal Kotecha

Highways Agency major projects director Nirmal Kotecha agreed that he was also unclear about what value its consultants currently delivered.

“Return on investment is a question mark,” he said during the discussion.

“The world we are moving into will require a whole new paradigm shift in the way our consultants approach the challenge.”

Cost concerns emerged as Network Rail settled its dispute with unions over proposed pay cuts and redundancies in its latest costs drive. Industrial action was averted because the RMT union agreed a deal worth around 7% between now and December 2011, plus a £2,000 lump sum for staff in time for Christmas.

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