Building a sustainable future for rail services in Wales

Source: RTM Jun/Jul 17

Geoff Ogden, interim managing director at Transport for Wales (TfW), talks to RTM about how the organisation is putting sustainable development at the heart of its services.

TfW is a wholly-owned, not-for-profit company established by the Welsh government to support the creation of a transformational, integrated transport system for Wales, which will provide high-quality, safe, affordable and sustainable transport for all.  

It is currently undertaking the procurement process for the next Wales and Borders Rail Service and South Wales Metro on behalf of the Welsh government.  We’re procuring an operator and development partner (ODP) using an outcome-based Competitive Dialogue process. The contract is scheduled to be awarded by early 2018, ready to commence in October 2018. Later this year, we will begin a process to start appointing infrastructure delivery partners (IDPs) in an alliancing arrangement with the ODP to deliver areas such as station improvements, electrification and signalling for Metro.  

In Wales, we have a unique piece of legislation, the Well-being of Future Generations Act, which is about improving the social, economic, environmental and cultural wellbeing of Wales. The Welsh government is also committed to using procurement policy to bring economic, social and community benefits. TfW is playing its part in realising these benefits. 

Opportunities for smaller local suppliers 

We want to enable smaller local suppliers to compete for and win work in the supply chain. TfW is working closely with Welsh government’s support department, Business Wales, to make opportunities available to local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and third sector enterprises (TSEs). We’ve already hosted a number of well-attended awareness events with a number of partners relating specifically to the IDP procurement. We’re now working with Business Wales to map out a potential supply chain and provide support to small companies wanting to become part of the supply chain. The ODP and IDPs will also be required to ensure that they maximise business opportunities for local SMEs and TSEs in any procurement they require. 

Skills gaps 

Opportunities for local employment will primarily come through the supply chain and the appointment of IDPs. There are several potential projects in Wales and within easy commuting distance which may affect the availability of skilled people. The planned Tidal Lagoons, HS2, nuclear developments, Heathrow expansion, potential M4 relief road and the Aston Martin investment in a new manufacturing facility in St Athan could all go live during the Metro construction phase. Recognising these opportunities and risks, TfW has engaged with Welsh government Education and Skills support programmes and has commissioned the Construction Industry Training Board and the National Skills Academy for Rail to forecast our skills requirements. 

Opportunities for innovation 

The need to encourage and embrace innovation during the lifetime of the contract is clear. Collaboration is a key theme of the Welsh government’s Innovation Strategy and we’re working with organisations such as Innovate UK and the Rail Safety Standards Board. We’re also looking to work with the ODP and IDPs in seeking third-party funding to assist bringing new technologies, processes, business models and products to the rail market, supporting initiatives such as the Small Business Research Initiative. The ODP is also expected to become part of the Welsh government Open Innovation Programme, sharing and learning from ideas generated by other strategically important employers. 

Ethical employment 

TfW is committed to ensuring ethical employment at all levels. We’re requiring that the ODP and IDPs sign up to the Welsh government’s Code of Practice for Ethical Employment in Supply Chains, which includes a commitment to pay at least the living wage and address modern-day slavery and blacklisting issues along with inappropriate use of zero hours and umbrella contracts. TfW is also looking to ensure that all materials used are ethically sourced. 

A sustainable future 

Using the framework of the Well-being of Future Generations Act, we have established an overall approach that embeds these principles in the procurement process, creating a sustainable supply chain. We hope that what we’ve put in place will be a key driver in bringing long term social and economic benefits to Wales.




Lutz   21/07/2017 at 03:06

It seems odd to be going with a single contract for both the metro, and the non-metro services; would they not be better served by separate operators?

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