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TfL invites supply chain to challenge rail standards


Transport for London (TfL) is inviting its supply chain to challenge its current rail standards as it seeks to drive innovation and cut costs. 

The call to challenge standards follows that of Network Rail’s, which introduced a similar process in April last year. TfL is also developing new standards with the Rail Industry Association (RIA).

At the time the rail operator said as part of its Open for Business initiative, it had already streamlined 400 standards to reduce cost, complexity and encourage innovation while maintaining safety standards. 

In August last year, TfL suppliers slammed their client for failing to implement innovation, in a performance report seen by New Civil Engineer.

The operator was criticised for having a “lack of risk appetite”, “slow decision making” and a “lack of effective engagement” in the TfL Voice of the Supplier Report 2018, compiled by State of Flux.

TfL is now hoping that a similar collaborative approach will provide benefits for its own organisation.

RIA technical director David Clarke said: “It is fantastic to be working with Transport for London to develop a process by which unnecessarily onerous standards can be challenged.

“Our previous work with Network Rail shows the benefit to clients and suppliers of coming together to collaboratively assess how we can deliver innovatively and cost-effectively – ultimately to the benefit of those who use our rail system.”

TfL managing director of London Underground Nigel Holness added that the supply chain should be “supported to develop new solutions and not held back in terms of innovation by historical norms”.

“We are delighted to be working with RIA to see how we can best deliver future rail improvements by changing those standards that have previously hampered new ideas and innovations,” said Holness. “Our intention is to create a portal to ensure transparency, which will be developed over 2019.”

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