Network Rail's proposed £34 billion pound investment programme on rail infrastructure provides potential opportunity for businesses with different technical specialities. "Since 2002, Network Rail has been looking after the majority of surface rail lines in the UK, for which it owns the infrastructure including the railway tracks, signals, tunnels, bridges, level crossings and stations.
This year will see the rail operator entering into its 4th control period. Each of Network Rail's control periods last 5 years, and for that time its spending is determined by the Office of Rail Regulation. During the next 5 years, 2009 - 2014, Network Rail will spend £34 billion across the network. This will include £11.5 bn for renewals work and a further £8bn to enhance the network. Though the figure is less than what Network Rail originally asked for, it is still a boost to the industry at a time when many sectors are being hit hard by the credit crunch, making it a good choice for firms looking to expand to new areas of work.
Major projects will play a significant role for companies looking to break into the sector, with London, Birmingham and Scotland all set to see huge investment. In London, work on the £5bn Thameslink programme is already under way. but with construction scheduled to last until past 2012 there is plenty of time for suppliers to get on board.
The good news for contractors new to rail is that work at Reading will focus mainly on non-track work making it a perfect entry point for those green to the sector. And the same goes for the £550 million pounds revamp of Birmingham New Street, which will double the size of the existing station. An extra 16 escalators will need to be installed, and there will also be 3 new entrances to the station from the city centre and new public square. In Scotland, the work is set to be more focused on track.
Contractors interested in taking up work in the rail sector will need to qualify for the chain through Achilles' Link -Up questionnaire. Specialities that Network Rail will look for include firms with capabilities in buildings, civil engineering, signalling, telecoms, trackwork, electrification and m&e maintenance work.
All major contract opportunities with a value of more than £3m are advertised in the Official Journal of the European Union." Source: Andrea Klettner (Transport & Infrastructure Reporter), Construction News.
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