Every year, Network Rail recognises and awards its suppliers for excellence over the preceding twelve months. 2013 was no exception, and the fifth Partnership Awards took unique way of preparing track workers for place on London at the end of July.
Over 500 people gathered for the ceremony, held near Waterloo, representing Network Rail as well as its suppliers and contractors. Opening the evening, Simon Kirby, managing director – Network Rail Infrastructure Projects, commented: “These awards have become an important part of our calendar, and provide us with a chance to take a step back and look at what our industry, working in partnership, has achieved over the last year.
“Three years ago, we publicly set out a strategy to change how we work as an industry to achieve a truly collaborative relationship with our partners. This year we plan to invest over £5 billion in rail projects right across Great Britain. Indeed, the level of investment up to 2019 will be the largest scale investment since the Victorian times.
“To meet our challenges on safety, delivering more for less and delighting customers, we need more innovation through even greater levels of partnership. That couldn’t happen without the hard work and commitment of the people in this room and many others.”
Twelve awards were to be presented on the night, and the shortlist contained an interesting mix of projects and companies.
Many have already featured on the pages of The Rail Engineer, and hearing about them again, and talking with the people involved, was like meeting old friends.
Television personality Hugh Dennis was host for the evening, and in a witty introduction he reminded the audience that he had started his career as a brand manager at Unilever. He was therefore pleased to help recognise excellent performances in industry.
Immersed in safety
The presentations commenced with probably the most important topic of all – Safety. Laurie Haynes, non-executive director and chairman of the Safety, Health and Environment committee, set the tone. “Safety should be at the heart of every project, from plan through to commissioning,” he said. “This award recognises teams and projects that have shown a continuous improvement towards safety within the workplace and on – or near – the railway.”
The winner was Mission Room for its unique way of preparing track workers for site activities by physically immersing them in 360-degree video and stills of real and future sites. Better site understanding and spatial awareness increases efficiency, reduces operational risks and improves safety.
First installed on the Finsbury Park to Alexandra Palace project in January 2012, the positive response to the technology has led to further installations at Network Rail sites in Swindon, York, Peterborough and Scotland. Improvements in the technology continue as media captured from trains and real-time 360° monitoring are being developed in conjunction with Network Rail.
From a strong field, Nottinghamshire County Council was highly commended for its ‘Ditch the Distraction’ road safety campaign which encouraged young people aged 11-18 not to be distracted by their mobile phone / mp3 player when leaving school and college.
Engaging the local community
Martin Arter, programme and technical services director and head of Network Rail’s charity panel, was next on stage to present the award for Community Engagement. This is an important one for Network Rail.
“With over five million lineside neighbours, we are always mindful of the potential our large programme of work has to bring real benefit to those local communities and the positive impact that can have. This award recognises those partnerships that have made an outstanding effort to improve their local communities and in doing so help build the reputation of Britain’s rail industry.”
The presentation was made to Signalling Solutions for its work on the Bletchley re- modelling project. This delivered a package of environmental initiatives that provided a lasting legacy within local communities. Vital local community support was secured at every stage of the planning and, in one case, hundreds of members of the public even gave up a day to help plant a new woodland.
Combining old with new
Heritage was the subject of the next award. Jerry Swift, head of community rail, was called upon to make the presentation.
“Throughout our work we must be sensitive to the rich railway heritage we operate around,” Jerry told the audience. “This award celebrates the conservation, restoration and promotion of this heritage, recognising the particular regard shown to Network Rail’s buildings and structures of national importance.”
From a short list of six, Skanska Civil Engineering was the winner for Borough Viaduct.
Construction of this key element of the Thameslink programme required the complete demolition of a section of Borough Market and its roof structure. The market is of particular historical importance to the Southwark area and is defined by the intricate cast-iron roof structure which shelters it.
It was decided that rather than rebuild the market roof using modern materials, the existing cast-iron structure would be carefully removed, refurbished and rebuilt to retain its historical significance to the market and the surrounding area.
Carillion Rail was highly commended in this category for Ouseburn viaduct, as was Balfour Beatty Rail for the restoration of the Forth bridge.
Sustainability is the subject of an article elsewhere in this issue, and the fourth award was for Sustainable Excellence. Safety and sustainable development director Gareth Llewellyn was on stage for this one and, being Welsh, he was able to correct Hugh Dennis’ pronunciation of Loughor viaduct after he had read out the short list.
Gareth then turned to the serious business of the award. “With record growth, performance and investment in the network comes ever greater pressure to deliver outstanding value for money and service, and achieve the highest levels of both safety and sustainable development. This award recognises exactly that – organisations that clearly demonstrate sustainable and responsible ways of working.”
Judge John Alker, director of policy and communications for the UK Green Building Council, had selected Costain Laing O’Rourke (CoLOR) and Network Rail Infrastructure Projects for the Thameslink Programme – Farringdon station.
The Farringdon station project is a £290m complex major redevelopment at the hub of London’s transport investment, the point at which north-south Thameslink meets east-west Crossrail. The project team received commendations from English Heritage for the standard of historic building recording undertaken, and delivered a programme of high quality restoration and enhancement works to the Grade II listed building far above that which was originally envisaged. The success in these areas was due predominantly to establishing successful stakeholder relationships and having the right level of specialist resource to support the project.
And to revert to Gareth’s opening comment, Carrilion Rail’s Loughor viaduct project was picked out as highly commended by the judges.
Piling on the technology
Network Rail’s chairman, Richard Parry-Jones, was up next to make the award for the Best Use of Technology. This is a subject very dear to Richard’s heart and it showed in his introduction.
“Today we stand on the verge of a quantum leap in the application of technology. Investing in technology will transform our knowledge of the railway making us better at targeting when, where and how we improve it.”
The award went to Aspin Group for trackbed enhanced axial micropiles.
As a result of increased linespeeds on UK railways, localised sections of track (particularly on the West Coast main line) suffer from a phenomenon known as ‘critical velocity’ – where soft ground is unable to dissipate the dynamic loading generated by trains travelling at high speed, resulting in damage to track components, high levels of required maintenance intervention, and speed restrictions.
To reduce the number of imposed linespeed restrictions, Network Rail and Aspin engineers have developed an enhanced piling solution for the trackbed which offers a cost-effective alternative to deep excavations. That allows works to be undertaken in short possessions, and without signalling disconnections or track removals.
Two other entries were highly commended. Spencer Group was recognised for its work on Sudbury Phase 1. After a train was derailed at a user-worked crossing in Sudbury, injuring more than 20 people, Spencer Rail delivered a sophisticated, colour-coded tracking system that would show signallers exactly where trains were.
Telent Technology Services Ltd were also singled out for improving Network Rail’s site- surveying capabilities by developing a modular build application that enables surveyors to take photos on-site, then drag-and-drop codes onto the photo to illustrate the works required.
Opportunities for people
“This industry will only ever be as good as its people, and this award recognises projects and partnerships that promote accountability, opportunity and diversity.” That was group asset management director Jerry England introducing the Investing in People Award.
Because track designers are in short supply, and with the future looking ever brighter in terms of opportunities for the UK rail network to grow, a team of industry leaders joined forces as the Track Design Alliance to tackle the issue.
In making the award, the judges recognised a clear focus on collaboration to solve a common problem across multiple organisations with evidence of working together to create the “next generation of track design employees”. The concept of a training passport that blends formal training alongside practical experience was seen as an effective way of tracking development. They also recognised the clear commitment to long-term people development, with all trainees offered a permanent role at the end of their programme.
Babcock international was highly commended for its development of the Network Rail Advanced Apprenticeship Scheme.
Innovative and efficient
Efficiency is very often the name of the game these days, and the award for Driving Efficiencies is a reflection of that. Group finance director Patrick Butcher is naturally very keen on the benefits of efficiency improvements, so he was on stage to present this award.
“We all have a part to play in reducing public subsidy of the railway. This award recognises organisations that have made real strides in their work to help create a more efficient railway,” he explained.
Aspin Group’s innovative axial micropile solution to trackbed instability, already recognised with the award for Best Use of Technology, also produces marked efficiency improvements. It therefore impressed judge Bridget Roswell (a Network Rail non- executive director) sufficiently to bag the Driving Efficiency trophy.
The awards for Best Project are split into three categories based on value. Simon Kirby, as managing director of Infrastructure Projects, presented all of them.
First came small projects, valued at under £3 million.
That award went to a project “that has truly embraced collaborative working, to achieve a common goal”.
BAM Nuttall’s team on the York Engineer’s Triangle, an engine turntable installation, worked in true partnership to seek and deliver an alternative solution after original plans were cancelled. Working with a 150-year-old piece of equipment, the team was able to refurbish, install and deliver a new solution which was fully operational within six months.
Two other small projects were highly commended. ScotRail for the reopening of Conan Bridge station, on Scotland’s remote Far North line, marked the return of rail services to the village after more than five decades, much to the delight of local people. Telefonica O2 designed and built the new LAN network to support corporate computing services at the Quadrant:MK.
A medium project is defined as being between £3 million and £20 million in value. The winner of this one was Invensys Rail for Reading station remodelling: Main western line, Resignalling stage F. Simon described it as: “A project that has taken collaborative working to the highest standard and safely delivered some outstanding achievements”.
Invensys Rail has been supporting Network Rail in the delivery of the revised signalling system since 2009. From the outset the whole team adopted a ‘one team’ mentality, with a shared approach to location, resources, and problem solving – helping to ensure the successful and safe delivery of each stage.
The judges also chose to highly commend Osborne with the Marcon Place underbridge replacement. These works required the construction of new bridge abutments, in front of the existing abutments at high street level, whilst carrying out the demolition of the platform slabs above the same work area using scaffold crash decks.
Large projects, over £20 million, produced another success for Skanska Civil Engineering and Borough Viaduct. The project team achieved completion of a major civil engineering and building project in a central London site which was rich in cultural heritage. Engaging the workforce and minimising the impact of the project on the community was key to the safe and successful delivery of the project which operated under a Collaborative Planning system and involved one of the first Network Rail contractors to gain BS11000 accreditation.
Following on that same theme, the final category award was for Best Collaboration. It brought the only non-Network Rail presenter to the stage, Jeremy Candfield of the Rail Industry Association. A long-time supporter of collaborative working, Jeremy both judged and presented the award which recognises organisations and stakeholders whose collaborative efforts have brought real and demonstrable benefits to both Network Rail and Britain’s railway.
The award went to another company which had embraced the new BS11000 for collaborative working early on – Hochtief (UK) for its work on the Hitchin grade separation. This 2.5km railway chord was delivered under a ‘pure alliance agreement’. It was also viewed by Network Rail management as a demonstration project and the model for future procurements. The collaboration and associated innovation helped bring the project in five months early.
Babcock and ScotRail were highly commended for the electrification of the Paisley Canal line, a project that has been hailed as a groundbreaking alliance, setting the standard for the delivery of rail projects in Scotland.
So that was the end of the judged categories, and it was time to find out who Network Rail considered to be its Supplier of the Year. Chief executive Sir David Higgins made his only appearance of the night to make the presentation. As usual, the build up had everyone working out who the recipient would be.
“This supplier is currently working on a number of major station projects with Network Rail and their key suppliers including King’s Cross, London Bridge, Reading and Birmingham New Street. At Birmingham they have recently completed Phase 1 of the Gateway Project in collaboration with Mace and Network Rail and are currently embarking on Phase 2 involving the creation of the Eastern Concourse, and the new Grand Central shopping centre. Their positive behaviour in finding solutions to site challenges has brought many benefits to the scheme. The quality of work
has been to a very high level which in turn has delivered an excellent safety record.”
By that time most of the audience had deduced that the Supplier of the Year 2013 was NG Bailey. It was good to see Network Rail recognise a truly innovative engineering company which works both as a first and second tier supplier.
Speaking afterwards, David Hurcomb, CEO of NG Bailey, said: “This is an outstanding achievement and demonstrates our strength in the rail sector. The sector is a key growth area for the business and the division currently boasts an impressive forward order book worth £250 million.
“Network Rail is a key customer for us and I’m delighted that we have been recognised as their Supplier of the Year.”
So that was the 2013 Network Rail Partnership Awards. They gave everyone present, both successful and unsuccessful, plenty to consider and talk about. But as
Hugh Dennis had said earlier in the evening, everyone there was a winner in their own way.