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Rail client seeks saving

RAIL operator Network Rail is introducing more standardised designs across its infrastructure projects to save money and drive a harder bargain with contractors.

Deputy chief executive Iain Coucher said: 'Standardised designs have been introduced in 14 specific areas such as new bridges and embankments.

'We have managed to halve our specification times for getting jobs on site more quickly and saving money.' The company has renegotiated its framework contracts with the industry to introduce tougher terms and is competitively tendering at least 15 per cent of works formerly delivered under framework contracts to market test prices.

Chief executive John Armitt said: 'The contractor's profit margin is slim but there is an incentive there for them if they hit target costs.' Network Rail plans to cut the cost of operating and maintaining the railway by more than £600 million by 2008-09.

Although the company is to spend a total of £7.2 billion on renewals over the next three years it is aiming for a 22 per cent reduction in unit costs by March 2007.

Network Rail is also looking to embrace prefabrication technology.