RAILTRACK DIRECTOR of major projects and investment Simon Murray, this week outlined to a packed meeting in Birmingham, 'The challenges of delivering tomorrow's railway.'
Murray was fulfilling a long standing commitment to former Ove Arup colleague Colin Clinton, who next week completes his year as chairman of the Midlands branch.
The meeting began with a video detailing the highs and lows of the successful, if sometimes chaotic, works at Proof House junction. The works, completed in just 19 days involved the laying of some 15km of track, 14,000t of ballast and the rebuilding of four Victorian bridges.
Murray started his speech by describing Birmingham as the heart of the railway and said that Railtrack will be investing more than £260M in the Midlands region this year.
It is nearly two years since he joined Railtrack from airport operator BAA. In that time, he said, he has begun to understand the practical challenges facing Railtrack, in delivering the infrastructure, that will enable sustained progress.
'There is still some way to go' Murray acknowledged, before the public gets the railway it deserves, but he believes that real progress is being made. More passengers are travelling more miles and not only are the railways busier, but also safer and more reliable he said.
Murray put the progress down to the massive investment programme but to maintain it will require 'significant changes in the way we work'. The Railtrack aim, he continued, was to get 'maximum value for every pound we invest, while causing minimum disruption.' It must be remembered he said, 'we are delivering on an operating railway.'
He then outlined the changes Railtrack is making to its management and supply structure to improve efficiency. He also detailed the benefits bought by programme management.
'Radical changes' will be made to how contracts were run, he promised. Railtrack will employ directly through its suppliers, he said and would only deal with companies that can 'meet our exacting standards.'
Murray believes that Railtrack can make things easier for itself, and that the industry shouldn't fall into the trap of thinking it is unique. 'In my experience most problems we face have already been solved in another industry.
We have to learn to go out into the world, find the best ideas and bring them back to our railway here in Britain.'