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Network Rail asks supplier views for £400m revamp

Rail operator quizzes firms interested in Reading contract about how deal should be let

Contractors interested in Network Rail’s £400 million Reading station overhaul are being asked to submit suggestions about how the job should be procured.

In an effort to establish itself as a ‘world-class’ client, the rail operator is now asking the industry whether it wants design and build or early contractor involvement.

Costain rail director Ken Stewart said: “Network Rail is becoming more open. They’ve recognised that they need to become attractive to suppliers, especially in these busy times.”

Balfour Beatty will suggest that the project is procured under a single contract, while some smaller firms say it should be split into a series of more manageable jobs.

Contractors interested in the project are expecting further news on procurement in March.

The job is being overseen for Network Rail by major programme director Robbie Burns, who is also heading the operator’s Crossrail works.

A contractor source said: “The Reading project has been on the cards for ages and I think Network Rail was as surprised as anyone when it appeared in the White Paper in July last year.

“I hear they’re having some problems with resources as a result.”

One of the main packages will include the £100 million construction of the western box, a 1.8 km cut and cover underpass which includes a significant amount of dewatering.

The main station fit-out will see construction of six new platforms, southern platform extensions, new north and south entrances, a ticket office and a new non-fare-paying pedestrian route across the station. If let as a single package these works will cost £50 million.

A grade separation, 25 km of track and a new depot facility make up the remainder of the construction jobs.

Work on the track will cost £57 million while the bridge works, which include widening the Vastern Road bridge and a new deck on the north side of Caversham Road bridge, will cost £7 million.

Signalling and telecoms work is being carried out in three phases and includes the relocation of the main signalling centre to Didcot, Oxfordshire, by April 2010.

A new telephone exchange and associated civils work also needs to be complete by April 2010 but a site for this scheme has not been identified.