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Rail construction opportunities

The headlines may have been captured by the go-ahead for HS2 in recent weeks, but other lower profile rail projects are providing a rich source of rail construction opportunities for contractors across the country.

Network Rail is going full steam ahead with its latest CP6 investment programme which involved a £4.1 billion allocation for maintenance and renewals work during 2019/20, a rise of nearly one quarter on the previous year. A further 12% increase in spending is budgeted for the coming financial year.

Growing spending on rail maintenance and renewals is one of the key factors behind a 5% rise in civil engineering starts which Glenigan is forecasting for 2020 and which comes on top of a 22% rise last year.

More work for SMEs

Meanwhile Network Rail itself - which has dealings with around 4,000 suppliers - is actively seeking to work with more small and medium sized companies.

Earlier this year Network Rail launched a new SME action plan to work ‘more efficiently and closely’ with the sector as part of a drive to meet a government target to spend a third of its annual spending through SMEs by 2022. The plan focuses on improving its dealings with smaller firms in areas such as engagement, pre-procurement, procurement, contract management, supplier management and innovation.

It also forms part of a wider Open for Business Initiative launched by Network Rail which aims to make it easier for other organisations to invest in the railway. This includes a list of opportunities for third parties to fund, finance or deliver improvements on the railways.

Meanwhile, Glenigan Construction data highlights how the increase in Network Rail’s capital budget is translating into some significant current construction opportunities for contractors.

In April, invitations to tender are due to be sent out for Network Rail’s £200 million Southern Buildings and Civils (SBC) Framework, covering the detailed design and construction of buildings and civils projects. Running over three years, with scope for extensions, it will be divided into seven lots and is set to start from spring 2021.  

Construction work on upgrading and improving stations around the country is also in the pipeline.  Tenders have recently been invited by Network Rail for a new £5.5 million railway station in Swansea with work set to start in the spring and continue for six months (Glenigan Project ID: 19258589).

Elsewhere, construction work is underway and set to continue until the end of next year on a major £161 million upgrade of Leeds railway station, where Buckingham Group is the contractor (Glenigan Project ID: 14279050). The work includes improved access and options for an enlarged concourse to link between high speed rail and other services.  

For civils contractors, work on foot and road bridges over rail lines is also generating new construction work. Mott MacDonald has recently been appointed as the civil contractor on the £5million Siddick Overbridge in Workington for Network Rail, where work is set to start in April and continue for 16 months (Glenigan Project ID: 19189947).

Work on a larger scale

On a larger scale, Network Rail’s huge £402 million East West Rail Link 2 has recently been given the go-ahead, with work on Phase 2 of the Western Section set to re-open links between Bedford and Bicester as well as Milton Keynes and Aylesbury. Laing O’Rourke and VolkerRail are the contractors on the scheme, which will involve upgrading and reconstructing old rail lines as well as 18 new over- bridges and 22 new footbridges. Work is set to start early in 2023 and continue for 36 months (Glenigan Project ID: 16021036).

Whilst the bulk of the construction work on HS2 may be some years off, the go-ahead for the project is generating some significant building contracts. In April, procurement is set to be relaunched for the £200 million HS2 Washwood Heath Sidings marshalling depot where detailed plans have been granted near Birmingham. Work is set to start early next year and continue for 24 months (Glenigan Project ID: 11036747).

Further reading on this topic:

Rail tender opportunities from new investment programme


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