Network Rail Consulting eyes Middle East work

Network Rail, the owner and operator of Britain’s railway infrastructure, has said its new international rail consultancy business is firmly focused on opportunities in the Middle East.

David Higgins, chief executive of Network Rail, said Network Rail Consulting (NRC) will use the skills and experience available within the group to show British expertise overseas and be an international ambassador for Britain’s rail industry.

It will also help channel innovation back into Network Rail’s core business, helping deliver a better value railway for Britain, he explained.

Representatives of NRC including associate director Steve Holman and principal project engineer Nicola Furness, were present at Dubai event Middle East Rail earlier this month.

Network Rail’s move is part of wider reform agenda, which has seen the organisation move towards a devolved group structure to drive efficiencies and create value through market competition.

Higgins said: “Our vision is to be a world-class independent British-based infrastructure group that is internationally respected for providing rail services and solutions that deliver outstanding value, responsibly.

“Since the privatisation of the rail industry, Britain has not had a national rail champion operating in the international market. Network Rail has the depth and breadth of rail experience and knowledge to promote British expertise overseas and become a valuable international ambassador for our rail industry and for UK plc.

“By proving ourselves in the international market, Network Rail will be able to demonstrate that it is a modern, efficient and competitive company.”

NRC has been created as a subsidiary of Network Rail. It will operate outside the UK, offering consultancy services across advisory, strategic planning, asset management, operations and maintenance, and capital projects.

Strategic alliances with international consultancy firms Atkins and CH2M HILL have been formed to pursue opportunities in its target markets.

Higgins said: “The geographic focus of Network Rail Consulting centres on those countries, such as the USA and India, with large, aging rail infrastructure in need of modernisation – an area in which Network Rail has vast experience.

“In addition, there will also be opportunities to team with other consultants elsewhere. Markets where Network Rail Consulting would be able to carry out work as sub-consultant to alliance partners include Brazil, northern Europe, the Middle East, the Far East and Australia.”

Nigel Ash, managing director of NRC said: “Network Rail has internationally-valuable experience in developing innovative and pioneering approaches in asset management, and the successful delivery of large and complex capital projects, such as the Kings Cross redevelopment and the first stage of Thameslink.

“In addition, we look after one of the most heavily used railways in the world, on largely Victorian infrastructure. Despite these challenges, our railway carries more people on more trains than ever before, with improving levels of punctuality.

“We believe we have much to offer international clients and look forward to working alongside our partners to demonstrate the best of British engineering and ingenuity overseas.”

Mark Thurston, European transport business group director at CH2M HILL, said: “This collaboration brings together CH2M HILL’s expertise in programme management and delivery of some of the world’s most complex projects with Network Rail’s extensive knowledge of developing and managing railway infrastructure, which offers clients an unrivalled partnership to deliver innovative and practical solutions for the asset management and enhancement of the railways in North America.”

Douglas McCormick, managing director for Atkins’ UK rail division, said: “We have worked on countless projects with Network Rail to improve Britain’s railway and now we have an opportunity to take these experiences and the technical excellence of both organisations to offer an enhanced service to overseas markets.”