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£500m rail deals well worth wait

NETWORK Rail has picked the winners for a series of delayed structural maintenance deals worth more than £500 million.

Insiders at the rail operator told Construction News it had finally chosen its preferred contractors for a series of framework deals that have been on hold for nearly 18 months.

Birse's rail division has claimed two of the contracts, retaining its present deal in the Midlands. It has also claimed the package for the north-west region from the incumbent contractor, Nuttall, against rival bids from Alfred McAlpine, Murphy, Skanska and Amec.

Kier has also claimed success in the East Anglian region, overcoming opposition from Alfred McAlpine, Balfour Beatty, Murphy, Birse and Gleeson.

The holder of the East Anglian deal, JacksonEve, failed to make the shortlist to retain its position.

And in Network Rail's London northeast zone, May Gurney has held on to its structures deal following challenges from bidders including Mowlem, Skanska and Balfour Beatty.

The award of the four deals follows Mowlem's success in claiming a similar package north of the border for structures in Scotland.

Although spokesmen for the contractors Mowlem, Skanska and Balfour Beatty.

The award of the four deals follows Mowlem's success in claiming a similar package for structures in Scotland.

Although spokesmen for the contractors refused to comment, the Network Rail source said: 'The contracts are at preferred bidder stage at the moment but they should be up and running by April.'

The contracts run for five years, with the option to extend them for a further two.

Network Rail originally planned to tender the deals in 2003 but delayed the process because of several redrafts of the contracts to encourage the eventual contractors to carry out more of the work inhouse.

The network operator also wanted to drive a harder bargain with firms as part of plans to make 20 per cent efficiency savings.The value of the deals has been cut from the originally estimated £30 to £35 million a year to nearer £20 million as Network Rail plans to competitively tender more work.