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Network Rail consulting arm wins £120M Saudi railway deal

Network Rail Consulting, as part of a British consortium, has won a five-year technical support contract on Saudi Arabia’s North South Railway (NSR).

The deal is worth £120m to the team, which also includes outsourcing business Serco and rail haulage company Freightliner.

Client is the government-owned Saudi Railway Company (SAR).

The NSR, at over 2,750km in length, is one of the largest rail projects currently being developed worldwide (see map). The line from Riyadh will run to Ras Al-Khair on the Persian Gulf, with other branches going to Al Haditha, Hazm Al Jalamid and Al Baseeta in the north.

Network Rail Consulting was set up in 2012 as a subsidiary of Network Rail, with the aim of exporting British rail expertise overseas.

On the NSR, it will provide capacity management, network planning, train planning, passenger station operations, scheduling, dispatching, engineering, asset management, and infrastructure maintenance management.

Dr Rumaih al Rumaih, CEO of SAR, said: “In order to manage this new network, SAR went out to tender and invited a number of companies, based on their international experience in rail operations and infrastructure management, in order to support SAR. SAR’s vision is to implement world-class railway practises and deliver the highest standard of technical, commercial and operational service excellence to all SAR customers, as well as to ensure the transfer of technical and operating knowledge and skills, including training, to provide long-term employment opportunities for Saudis, to operate the rail network and develop the railway industry in Saudi Arabia.”

“After an extensive exercise supported by international business consultants AT Kearney, a UK Consortium consisting of Serco Group plc, Network Rail Consulting and Freightliner Group successfully won the tender process against strong international competition, and we look forward to working with them to achieve SAR’s strategic plans in a 5 year commercial partnership”

Nigel Ash, managing director of Network Rail Consulting, said: “That a joint British bid has won this prestigious contract against strong international competition demonstrates that we have the right blend of knowledge, experience and expertise within our industry.

“One of our goals when we launched Network Rail Consulting in 2012 was to export British rail expertise around the world and this long term contract with SAR firmly establishes us in the Middle East, where other state owned European railway consultancy arms have been successful for many years”

“The contract also allows us to share best practice with SAR on the introduction of the latest signalling and traffic management systems which both Network Rail and SAR have purchased for their respective networks.”

The contract is the largest secured by Network Rail Consulting, following other awards in the Australian rail market.

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