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London Rail special: Collaborate more, Network Rail tells suppliers

Different rail industry disciplines must collaborate more closely as the sector gets to grips with spending increases and rising passenger demand, a senior Network Rail figure said this week.

Speaking at NCE’s London Rail 2013 conference, Network Rail route manager for Kent Fiona Taylor spoke of the need to develop common goals within the network.

“For me, working collaboratively doesn’t have a great deal to do with the contract a lot of the time, it’s much more about how we choose to work together and the kind of behaviour and mindset we bring to what we’re trying to achieve… We should try to have a clear common goal,” she said.

“The industry often gets criticised for planning in a fairly short term, siloed way, but in order to find the benefits and to deliver what’s needed in order to keep the rail network able to cope with the demand that has been forecast we need to start planning now for the future.”

In practical terms, Taylor discussed working harder to increase communication with the supply chain.

“In the last three years we’ve generated over £17bn worth of work for our supply chain and that’s really important… We’re putting a lot of focus on how to work better with our supply chain, not just with principal contractors but with tiers two and three suppliers.”

Another key issue was encouraging devolved routes to strike the balance between thinking about the wider network and working closely with the local area.

“There’s a balance to be had between running a route as a standalone business but being ever mindful that a route is part of a wider network so one of the challenges that we were posed with during devolution was to say ‘how can you make sure that, in creating standalone businesses, you don’t lose sight of the network as a whole.”

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