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Network Rail to deviate from EU standards post-Brexit

3048991 network rail

Network Rail has confirmed that it will not implement European Union (EU) standards on all projects after Brexit.

The rail body said that sometimes bypassing Eurocodes would enable it to carry out infrastructure works without “unnecessary cost”.

A spokesperson said: “We want the best of both worlds – trade that enables us to realise the benefits of low cost (standardised) supplied products together with the freedom to not apply Euro standards where they drive unnecessary cost into the UK railway.”

High Speed One said in response that easy interoperability between UK and European railways is important for international train operating companies and it will continue to work to shared standards.

Its head of asset management Joseph Inniss said: ”We are already working closely with other rail infrastructure managers to incentivise standardisation in our supply chains and access economies of scale by working together.

”A recent example of that is the ERTMS collaboration agreement between HS1, Eurotunnel, SNCF Reseau and Infrabel. By working together it will make it easier to operate trains across our railways, and will mean that we can deliver the benefits as cost-effectively as possible.”

Other rail engineers said a departure from Eurocodes could be beneficial in some circumstances, however they cautioned against a wholesale departure.

FJD Consulting director Simon Moon said: “As we generally are involved in the design stages, the cost/time/process of design wouldn’t be significantly affected by adopting EU design codes. However, the impact of the design on the material quantities and techniques in the construction costs could be reduced. 

“I believe that some structures may be more economical by adopting historic non-EU-specific codes of practice, such as British Standard BS5400 for bridges. The opposite is also possible, in that more economy is available in other forms of construction via the Eurocodes. 

“Therefore, if the client or sponsor of the project is informed and able to state their preference, either could be commercially beneficial and should be available for selection, with the appropriate controls,” he said.

Tony Gee managing director Chris Young said it sounded like a ”sensible” approach, adding that not all codes are currently adhered to, where engineering skill and judgement deems suitable.

Arcadis director Will Waller added: “With annual output of circa £20bn, and growing, the significance of the UK infrastructure sector as a procurer makes it well-placed for leveraging buying opportunities in the post-Brexit world. 

“Evolved standards and different global trading arrangements certainly have promise to enable better value outcomes. For infrastructure clients, now is the time to look at how these opportunities might come to be realised in practice, and ensure readiness in time for the UK’s formal exit from the EU.”

In April Network Rail said was inviting contractors, suppliers and stakeholders to propose changes to its standards to try to remove the barriers to third party investment in UK rail.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Could not agree more. Many design with eurocodes unnecessarily adds to the cost. Lot of design using BS 5400 is more straightforward however some aspects are better covered in Eurocodes.

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