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RAILTEX 2011


perbly well depending on the way it was ap- plied. There is no ‘follow this model and it works’; it is about people and competence.”


Network Rail’s project delivery success rate has increased hugely since the founding of the company, and now stands at more than 90%. Does Kirby think it will ever be pos- sible to hit 100%?


“There is a lot of opportunity there not just to produce better, lower cost solutions, but safer to build as well.


“By having the guys involved who are going to be building it in the design team they will be thinking about safety, for example, in a different way to a conventional designer.”


A to B to now


It is worth comparing that approach with previous projects. As Kirby observes, even the relatively recent Airdrie to Bathgate project would have been done differently if the planning process started today.


He stated: “To draw a comparator, Airdrie to Bathgate was a project where we worked


with a design consultant and then we con- tracted the work for detailed design and construction to different organisations.


“In a new and different world we would have design consultants, contractors and a number of partners in an alliance where there is a mutual incentive to perform for the whole project. So the designer has got some skin in the game of the final solution and the contractor partners have got skin in the game for the design. It is just more collaborative.


“We looked at a number of models,” he adds, “and the conclusion is a lot of it is around behaviours of organisations and people, not just the model itself. We have seen the same model fail and succeed su-


© Railtex


He said: “It is like anything; there is no reason why you can’t, other than they are all very complex. With the best people and best processes, things will always happen because they are not green-field projects; they are all interfacing to existing infra- structure and managing all the risks and concerns is always a challenge. It is just something you have got to aspire to and try to achieve.


“It is a bit like zero accidents; it is the right thing to go for, even though it is always going to be a challenge going for it. If you think 5% late is ‘all right’, it is just not the right mindset. You will never get there.”


Proof of the pudding


Sceptics will say Network Rail’s new ap- proaches to suppliers are an attempt to di- vert any criticism included in the McNulty review and, of course, it remains to be seen how much more smoothly projects will run when implementing those new approach- es, but it can be as easily argued that the company is evolving and innovating on the back of recent experiences.


‘Evolution’ is a word much used in man- agement-speak and is therefore an easy target of ridicule, but it’s clear from the speeches given at Railtex from people like Kirby, Haythornthwaite and others, that Network Rail sees itself as being on the cusp of an exciting new era in infrastruc- ture development.


Plans to export this expertise worldwide, showing once again that, when it comes to rail, the UK is at the vanguard of technol- ogy can only be welcomed.


Suppliers to the UK market, therefore, will be hoping that ‘heartfelt speech’ does not translate into ‘empty rhetoric’ and that they can indeed look forward to a completely new way of working with Net- work Rail.


Visit www.networkrail.co.uk/aspx/1542.aspx Simon Kirby


FOR MORE INFORMATION rail technology magazine Jun/Jul 11 | 25


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