Network Rail is due to decide today on the appointment of the delivery partner for its £3bn share of the Crossrail scheme and the Great Western Main Line (GWML), including the redevelopment of Reading station. Shortlisted bidders are Mace, Bovis Lend Lease, Bechtel, Jacobs and ABB.
“However, if the board cannot make a final selection today the decision will be deferred for at least a month,” said Network Rail director of investment Simon Kirby.
The successful bidder will become part of the Network Rail team and integrated into all the work on the GWML as well as the western and eastern overground rail arms of Crossrail.
Network Rail is expecting the government to approve funding for the electrification of the GWML to Bristol shortly. This will be in addition to its £31.1bn spending agenda in the 2009 - 2013 five year plan and the £3bn the operator will spend on Crossrail.
“We need an integrated plan for all the work from South Wales to Paddington,” said Kirby.
The operator’s multi billion pound investment strategy is making it a very popular client in a recession, Kirby said. “It is inevitable that recession will improve the competitive nature of our suppliers pricing. But we are not going to make the 21% savings we are committed to just by keen pricing.
“We want suppliers who want to be in the industry for the long term. Our framework agreements have led to huge benefits for all parties. However, civil engineering is the most competitive part of our business at the moment. What we want from suppliers is innovation, we want people to succeed.”
Innovation is key because the business is now promising a seven day railway. “We know we can’t take the railway at weekends,” said Network Rail chief executive Ian Coucher. “We need to work on the value we give to our passengers.”
“Network Rail needs the best calibre of engineers,” Kirby added. “We need 1,000 more of them.”