Knowing the challenges that face the rail industry and collectively tackling those issues is something that the Southern Integrated Delivery team are looking to do.
Announced earlier this year, the Southern Integrated Delivery Team (SID) is a new alliance of four companies- Volker Fitzpatrick, Atkins, Octavius and VolkerRail that have been brought together by Network Rail for an ambitious ten-year renewals project across the southern region.
At TransCity Rail South, which is happening today, some of the key players involved in the enterprise spoke about why it was needed and how it came to be.
Tim Coucher, Network Rail alliance director, during the speakers panel said: “We spent a year speaking to people, companies and others about what needed to happen in the industry. And from that, SID slowly started taking shape.
We tested ideas, spoke to Andrew Haines who was really on board and said that it was exactly what we needed to be thinking about. And it meant we had to continually work with others.
A key point was we went out and asked for opinions, honest thoughts on what was wrong, and I think those conversations really framed what we are doing now.”
One of the key challenges that SID will need to work on, is bringing on board the wider industry, developing an ecosystem that supports the renewals programme and knowing who the right partners for that ten-year journey are. To get to that point, the partners worked on an extensive procurement process that really shaped the new way of thinking.
Paul Jones, operations director for VolkerRail said: “The big thing we have ahead of us is the visibility to really work on trialling, testing and innovating. It will help us change our mind as well – something we don’t do enough of. But given this is over ten years, that is novel. It allows us to work within the ecosystem of rail and give the supply chain confidence that the investment is there, and it allows them to provide the efficient technical expertise that we need.
We very much saw the procurement event to be part of the whole thing and the start of the project rather than something on its own. And some of the principles we established in the procurement process are principles we have now.”
Work is scheduled to start in quarter one of 2024, with a healthy-looking works programme being plotted. Often in rail, the reactive nature of the network and the industry means that planning ahead is a challenge that it rarely gets to grips with. A proactive approach to renewals is one area where it has attempted to drive forward before but has lacked a clear-sighted vision.
For SID, it is now at the stage where it will begin to provide a detailed works programme, as Will Rule, ecosystem lead for SID said on the panel: “We are working through the process, and there is work ready for year one of CP7 but we’re obviously we’re still in the flight path of CP6.
“The staging of that work is currently in plan, and we know what needs to be done over the next five years, but the staging and phasing is what we’re currently working through.
We know that we need the supply chain and were currently devising our strategy for the ecosystem, so it is fit for the supply chain and SID. But it will be integrated and commercially minded.”