Midlands Engine

04.06.19

Networks Rail’s David Ollerhead, on engaging with the supply chain

David Ollerhead, Networks Rail Open for Business Programme Director, joins us to discuss ‘breaking down barriers’ and making it easier for organisations to invest in the sector. Ahead of TransCityRail Midlands 2019, he explains that he is fully committed to a regularly updated pipeline of opportunities for third parties.

Explain the key aspects of your role as Open for Business Programme Director at Network Rail?

The Open for Business programme at Network Rail is all about breaking down barriers to make it easier for other organisations to invest and build on the railway.

My role is to work with key stakeholders and business-led workstreams, to help us become easier to engage with; and a more dependable partner by overseeing the implementation of new initiatives and streamlined processes. Now that we have delivered the commitments we made in response to the Hansford review, the next stage of the programme builds on those strong foundations to further break down barriers and enable a significant cultural shift for Network Rail - as we realise the benefits of the programme by encouraging and enabling industrywide innovation and creativity, contestability and third party investment.

What is your long-term ambition for Network Rail?

To be a more dependable partner that third parties can easily engage with.  We must be looking for other sources of investment, particularly as the majority of our funding for this Control Period (CP6) is to be spent on operations, renewals and maintenance.

I believe it’s only fair that we look to those organisations that will benefit from rail enhancements, to help pay for them. We’re seeing huge demand already and have lots of examples. My ambition is that this demand continues to grow.

How will the Rail Upgrade Plan impact on the supply chain?

The supply chain should now expect enhancements to be considered on a case by case basis; which brings new challenges, but also fresh opportunities. Each project will have to be supported by business cases to confirm its strategic fit, value for money, affordability and deliverability.

What new supply chain opportunities will there be as a result of the Rail Upgrade Plan?

As part of the Open for Business programme, we’ve committed to regularly updating a pipeline of opportunities for third parties to invest in. This includes contestable work – jobs that traditionally only Network Rail could deliver – if a supplier can do it more efficiently. We hope to refresh the list towards the end of the year but in the meantime you can download the current list at www.NetworkRail.co.uk/OpenForBusiness

What have been the major challenges and stand out successes?

We have made significant progress, having completed all the commitments we made in response to the Hansford Review, and are already starting to reap the rewards. We closed-out CP5 with more than £1bn extra third-party investment, which means more enhancements and benefits for passengers. For CP6, we’re challenging ourselves to go even further  and bring in £1.6bn - I believe we now have the systems, processes and people in place to do just that.

Why do you think events like TransCityRail are vital to the industry and how will it help deliver your message?

Network Rail is open for business and we’re keen to use events like this to demonstrate and evidence the changes we’re making, that will make us easier to engage with, and help us become a more dependable partner. I was really encouraged by the response I got at last year’s TransCityRail North event from the supply chain and wider industry; and I hope that being absolutely clear about the changes we are putting in place and increasing transparency and openness, will further support increased engagement across the industry.

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