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Network Rail shakes up inspection work

Consultants told they must retender for regional work as track operator consolidates contracts into larger packages.

Consultants risk losing vital Network Rail inspection work after the track operator axed several regional contracts in favour of new mega-contracts.

Network Rail sent an email to consultants working on contracts affected by the shake up warning them that they would have to retender for the work. The email went to consultants working on three different contracts in each Network Rail region last week – a total of 21 contracts.

Network Rail currently operates separate contracts for structural inspection and examination, structural assessment, and station property and on-line buildings.

The track operator will scrap these contracts, and instead offer a single contract to consultants to cover structural inspections, structural examinations, structural asset inspections, tenanted arches inspections, earthworks inspections, building inspections, depots and rapid response inspections.

Mouchel chief executive Richard Cuthbert said: "The contracts that are in place have four to five years left to run. Network Rail is looking at consolidating more work to fewer firms."

Mouchel currently holds the structures examination contract in Network Rail's North West Zone and structures assessment contracts in the London North West and South East zones. Other firms known to be affected by Network Rail’s new policy include Amey, Mouchel, Atkins, WSP, Pell Frischmann, Jacobs, Mott MacDonald, First, Faber Maunsell and Opus.

A Network Rail spokesman confirmed the move, saying: "We are looking to completely retender contracts. "The new framework agreements will be for five years, starting from 1 April 2009. We want to align contracts with territories, making it easier to manage contracts and work with suppliers."

Consultants affected have until Friday to register their intention to bid for the new contracts. Network Rail has also unexpectedly cancelled a track enhancement job in Kent.

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