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Consultants wield jobs axe as Network Rail takes work in house

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RAIL CONSULTANTS were this week planning to make signalling engineers redundant after Network Rail announced plans to take more work back in house.

The track operator has confi med that signalling, telecommunications, electrification and power systems design will be carried out in house as far as scheme layout stage.

It told key consultants of the plans shortly before Christmas.

They are now attempting to fi nd other work for their signals specialists.

arsons Brinckerhoff said it expected to lay off 30 to 40 staff; Atkins is consulting on the future of its 20 strong Crewe offi ce. Scott Wilson has shed 10 staff.

Network Rail director of major projects and investment Simon Kirby told NCE that the move was intended to bring much greater efficiency in design and construction.

'Twenty per cent of the design is responsible for 80% of the cost, ' said Kirby. 'Control of that has to be managed by core employees.' Parsons Brinckerhoff head of rail Mike Jenkins said the move was understandable and that Network Rail would probably take more design work in house in future.

Consultants believe that Network Rail wants to reduce their workload by 30% across the board.

'Network Rail has a certain amount of steady state design work and it should have that capability in house. Consultants should be used to deal with peaks and to bring in innovative design learned from other clients, ' said Jenkins.

'Over the last few years we've been doing the steady state design. Now the issue is how quickly the client moves from where it is now to where it wants to get to. We guess it will take up to two years, ' he said.

The operator is also believed to be looking for economies of scale by cutting the number of consultants that it works with.

'Multi-offi s were encouraged in Railtrack days. Now we are moving towards what is probably a better model - more consolidated design teams in fewer offi ces, allowing us to provide a better service at a cheaper price, ' said one consultant.

Parsons Brinckerhoff said that it hoped to move its signals engineers on to projects elsewhere in the world.

'We are hurting locally but we are a global company. I'm not sure all our competitors are that fortunate, ' said Jenkins.

Atkins said it, too, hoped to relocate staff. But most consultants said that redundancies would be inevitable.

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