Prior to the NRTS deal, the Agency was faced with managing more than 20 separate communications systems contracts. Private finance was seen as a way of ridding the Agency of the hassle at a stroke.
But handing a contractor all the risks of managing, maintaining and adding to the network over 10 years would have dramatically inflated the cost of the contract and delivered very bad value for money, says Raby.
'The need to add to the network is a cost they can't control, but which is completely controllable by us. We've therefore made half of the contract a framework and called it a public private partnership.' Under the deal, the Genesis consortium of banker HSBC and US contractor Fluor takes responsibility for the national telecommunications network, providing a resilient and reliable service and monitoring the performance. For this it gets paid £490M over a decade.
But all roadside devices remain the responsibility of the Agency. The contract includes a pricing structure for the installation of additional infrastructure and for work generated if a new road is built.
Fluor will manage the contract, with subcontractors brought in for specific work such as cable and CCTV installation. Mott MacDonald will do civils design, with a civils contractor yet to be appointed.