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Network Rail Track Delivery Update from Steve Featherstone 5th September

05 September 2014

PL and S&C Contracts

It has been a busy few weeks since I last wrote a Track Delivery update: the Plain Line and S&C contracts in the North cut over to Babcock, Carillion and AmeySersa on 19 August. The safe delivery of work started immediately after cut over. Since contract transition we have had two core weekends of work in the North and five core weekends of work in the South.


Generally things have gone very well however last Monday we had our first overrun of the new contracts on a Carillion Plain Line job in LNE / EM, and on Wednesday we had our first serious incident when a RRV operated by TXM working on a Babcock Plain Line job in Wessex hit a footbridge - attached photo shows the damage which you can use with your team in briefings to spot the hazards and remind everyone not to stand in a place of danger when using the phone or taking a photograph.

A few days after North go live; I visited the AmeySersa team in Crewe. On Wednesday, I visited the Babcock and AmeySersa teams in Glasgow. Today I visited the Carillion and AmeySersa teams in Doncaster.

There have been a few teething problems with fuel cards not working, IT connectivity, printers etc. but nothing we could not work around. There have been a few holes in the resource team sheets which have been filled either by the contractor’s project businesses, the supply chain or support between the contractors. A number of people that stayed with the existing contractors at the point of transition have now also joined the new contractors.

In Scotland, I met some great track renewals engineers who have come out of retirement to help to get the S&C delivery team established - they call themselves “The Expendables” after the movie which stars various 80’s action heroes such as Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger,


High Output Track Renewals

I also recently visited the High Output team on site on the West Coast mainline. I spent an hour at the access point discussing the decision by Network Rail to insource the High Output team - the questions were really well thought through and I hope I was able to reassure the teams that Network Rail is a great company to work for.


Talking of Network Rail being a great company to work for, I spent an hour with the new Network Rail graduates on their induction recently talking about all of the things that I wish I had known when I was in those shoes.

I also presented to the Rail Correspondence and Travel Society; a group of rail enthusiasts who operate like a learned society but the only qualification is that you have to have a passion for the railway. They were really interested in the world of track renewals and I’ve attached the slides I shared.


The senior IP leadership team recently undertook a safety assessment of the IP Track organisation and of the leadership team. Bill Cooke facilitated the session brilliantly and challenged us hard on where we are. On a five point scale we came out at level two which means that safety is still being driven by management rather than being pulled by the overall team. The day really provoked us to think about what we can do next on our safety journey.

Over recent weeks we have had a lot of relatively cold weather at nights when we have been installing rail. The weather forecast for the next five days is relatively benign. However if we get a late summer with air temperatures in the high 20s then there will be a risk of track buckles. The IP Track team are working with our contractors to identify any at risk sites which we can then prioritise with the routes to obtain access for stressing.

Miscellaneous news

Following contract cut over in the South, Colas immediately went into three busy weekends of S&C work at Watford. A video of the work has been produced. It can be found at:

The Rail Engineer magazine is now available via an app:

Network Rail has issued a safety bulletin on vehicle deliveries and collections adjacent to the railway.

Network Rail have issued a safety bulletin on the prohibition of JOST tower cranes.

Network Rail has issued a Project Advice Note on the common safety method for risk evaluation and assessment.

Network Rail have updated the Delivering Work Within Possessions (DWWP) process. (A quick guide to the DWWP)

Wales Route have issued a Share with Pride on how to recover, recycle and reuse old concrete sleepers.

The attached share with pride on recycling was produced by Lee Green in his role as Area Delivery Manager for Shrewsbury. Lee has now joined IP Track as our Recycling Manager. Lee’s role will be to identify anything that we remove as part of our works that may be useful to our colleagues in maintenance and then to arrange for these to be collected and sent to the National Supply Chain team reuse e.g. items such as rail, crossings, pulley wheels, levers and track circuit component. Lee’s target will be to generate £5million per year of savings by recycling rather than buying new.

Steve Featherstone

Programme Director Track

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