With an annual turnover of £240M and 1,800 staff, Atkins' Rail division is the largest UK consultant in this sector. The business is focused on three main areas of activity: the major projects unit, which includes sizeable high-prole design and build signalling schemes; the rail solutions area, which focuses on traditional rail engineering consultancy; and services to the Metronet joint venture, which is responsible for two-thirds of London's Tube network.
The general consultancy work accounts for between £50M and £60M of the rm's annual turnover, while a single signal upgrade contract - such as that currently in design for the Rugby/Nuneaton area - can generate fees of a similar scale.
The rail solutions business works on everything from feasibility studies to major multidisciplinary projects, such as Crossrail and the Glasgow Airport Rail Link. It has regional ofces in Glasgow, York, Birmingham, Croydon, Warrington, Swindon and Plymouth, with national centres in Derby - specialising in rail vehicle work - and London.
'People in the London centre tend to be at the higher end of the consultancy chain, ' explains Rail managing director David Tonkin. 'They are often experts in very specialised elds.' Tonkin's team also includes 120 staff at the rm's global resource centre in Sharjah - 'very much a high-level design resource' - and a smaller facility in Beijing, specialising in signalling and metro work.
Chinese-born graduate engineer Fang Fang joined Atkins in 2005 after completing an MSc at Imperial College, London.
'I had always wanted to be a leading gure in the industry, so I chose a leading company - Atkins - for the start of my career, ' she explains.
Fang is based in Atkins' Warrington ofce and is working on two projects: a deck replacement scheme for a 15-span viaduct over the River Ayr, and a strengthening scheme for the River Dee Bridge in Chester. 'I think working in a regional office is good for a new graduate to obtain first-hand information of structures as well as project management, ' she says.
Her immediate aim is to become chartered, which she hopes to achieve in the next two years.
'In the future, I hope I can play a leading role in some major projects, which are known and will be remembered, ' says Fang. 'I believe working in a large international multidisciplinary consultancy like Atkins I can always nd roles to meet my development requirements at different stages of my career.'
Principal engineer Jeremy Baldock is currently project manager for a five-year project to renew switches and crossings on Network Rail's lines between London Euston and Cumbria. Atkins has a design contract with Network Rail worth £3.5M a year for this work, about £2M of which is Baldock's responsibility, along with a multidisciplinary staff of 50 people.
He is in his 10th year at Atkins, having joined after doing a summer placement with the rm while at university. After a brief spell in Highways & Transportation, he moved to the Rail division in Birmingham just as it was starting up, and has seen it grow from a handful of people to almost 100 now.
During that time Baldock has been seconded to Network Rail and contractor Carillion, worked on the award-winning Proof House Junction project and has spent a year travelling between the UK and Poland. He became chartered at 25 - 'down to having very good experience and support' - and is now delegated engineer to four graduates.