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Four track down west country cable upgrade


NETWORK Rail has chosen four firms to share a £100 million deal to upgrade telecommunications cables.

The network operator is understood to have chosen Birse, Servirail, Dean & Dyball and a joint venture between Laing O'Rourke and telecoms company Waterland Technologies for the work.

The deal involves replacing cables on the fixed telecom network (FTN) in the west country. It forms part of Network Rail's plans to upgrade the 16,000 km of cables that run alongside the track across the UK.

Network Rail has divided the country into more than 60 areas - each containing about 250 km of cabling - and the four bidders will share 10 areas in the west. Laing O'Rourke has already secured similar deals in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, while Servirail has also taken an FTN upgrade in South Yorkshire.

The successful firms have been in discussions with Network Rail and are just waiting on the client to confirm the deals.

The contractors will survey the areas, carry out design work and install the copper communication and fibre optic cables. Network Rail is supplying the cables and the precast concrete troughs used to house them, while the firms will provide labour and plant.

One winning bidder said: 'This is a buzzing area at the moment and we're very pleased to have won a share of the work.'

Laing O'Rourke is also in talks with Network Rail - along with Amec, Mowlem and Skanska - over the scheme to replace drivers' analogue communication systems with a digital network in line with a new European directive. This will involve the installation of more than 2,000 masts across the country.