India’s largest software services exporter Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) said that it has won a comprehensive IT solutions contract from UK’s Network Rail Infrastructure Ltd. The four year IT solutions and system integration framework agreement encompasses identifying, defining, designing, building and integration of next generation IT solutions for Network Rail, the owner of Britain’s railway infrastructure, it said.
“Through this transformational initiative, Network Rail is implementing a structured multi-sourcing model to invest in a customer-centric IT strategy over four years to deliver greater efficiency, effectiveness and innovation across the organisation. TCS will be a key enabler in helping Network Rail to achieve its objective of generating an outstanding value for taxpayers and users by continually improving the railway,” the Tata Group company said.
TCS said it has over 5,000 consultants in Travel, Transport & Hospitality, working with over 50 customers in railways, airlines, hospitality, shipping and logistics.
TCS shares were trading little changed at Rs 1,465.45 on NSE in noon trade.
Network Rail, which operates UK’s railway infrastructure, also has doled out a four year IT contract to another four vendors; Cognizant, Accenture, CSC and BAE Systems. RailNews learns that the total value of the contract is about 750 million pounds. Of that, contract worth 370 million pounds has been awarded to TCS and Cognizant, equally divided between both the companies.
The vendors will implement IT solutions and system integration for the railway network in the UK. The contracts to TCS and Cognizant shows that the UK public sector space is now opening up for Indian IT companies. That at a time when the UK government is expected to deliver deals up to 4 billion pounds this year alone.
About Network Rail
Network Rail is the trade name used by Network Rail Ltd and its various subsidiary companies. The most prominent subsidiary is Network Rail Infrastructure Ltd (previously named Railtrack plc) which is the owner and operator of most of the rail infrastructure in Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales). It is not responsible for railway infrastructure in Northern Ireland or for the majority of track used by London Underground.
Network Rail Ltd is a statutory corporation created as a “not for dividend” private company limited by guarantee; Network Rail Infrastructure Ltd was reported in the 2010 annual company report as 100%-owned by Network Rail Ltd. Network Rail Ltd. has no shareholders thus is not owned by anyone but it is subject to various official requirements and directions. Currently the company applies its income to its own purposes (including some donations to charities etc). The lack of a legal owner makes it liable (as happened with the pre-privatisation Trustee Savings Bank) to any future statute taking it into government ownership and its status as a statutory corporation enables the government to make changes to the company despite not being the legal owner.
Network Rail’s main customers are the separate and mostly private-sector train operating companies (TOCs), responsible for passenger transport, and freight operating companies (FOCs), who provide train services on the infrastructure that the company owns and maintains. Network Rail does not itself run passenger or freight services. Ultimately both Network Rail and the train operating companies have the shared responsibility of delivering train services to the traveling public.
Britain’s railway system was built by private companies, but it was nationalised by the Transport Act 1947 and run by British Railways until re-privatisation in the 1990s. Infrastructure and passenger and freight services were separated at that time. Between 1994 and 2002 the infrastructure was owned and operated by Railtrack.
The Hatfield train crash on 17 October 2000 was a defining moment in the collapse of Railtrack. The immediate major repairs undertaken across the whole British rail network were estimated to have cost in the order of £580 million and Railtrack had no idea how many more ‘Hatfields’ were waiting to happen because it had lost considerable in-house engineering skill following the sale or closure of many of the engineering and maintenance functions of British Rail to external companies; nor did the company have any way of assessing the consequence of the speed restrictions it was ordering, which all but brought the railway network to a standstill. The costs of modernising the West Coast Main Line were also spiralling. In 2001, Railtrack announced that, despite making a pre-tax profits before exceptional expenses of £199m, the £733m of costs and compensation paid out over the Hatfield crash had plunged Railtrack from profit into a loss of £534m, and it approached the government for funding, which it then used to pay a £137m dividend to its shareholders in May 2001.
Network Rail Ltd. took over control by buying Railtrack plc, which was in “railway administration”, from Railtrack Group plc for £500 million; Railtrack plc was then renamed and reconstituted as Network Rail Infrastructure Ltd. The purchase was completed on 3 October 2002. The former company had thus never ceased to exist but continued under another name: for this reason Network Rail Infrastructure Ltd was the defendant in later prosecutions in respect of events which had occurred in the days of Railtrack.
Following an initial period in which Network Rail established itself and demonstrated its competence in addressing the principal challenges of improving asset condition, reducing unit costs and tackling delay, the Government’s Rail Review in 2004 White Paper said that Network Rail should be given responsibility for whole-industry performance reporting, timetable development, specification of small and medium network enhancements, and the delivery of route-specific utilisation strategies (RUS). Some of these are functions which Network Rail already had; others – such as the obligation to devise route utilisation strategies – were transferred to Network Rail from the Strategic Rail Authority, a non-departmental public body, part of the UK government. The SRA was subsequently abolished.
The company moved its headquarters to Kings Place, 90 York Way, from 40 Melton Street, Euston, on 26 August 2008. On 3 October 2008, Sir Ian McAllister announced that he would not stand for re-election as chairman of Network Rail. He had held the position for six years. He noted that as Network Rail moved to a “new phase in its development” it was appropriate for a new chairman to lead it there.
Many track safety initiatives have been introduced in the time Network Rail has been responsible for this area. The latest, announced in December 2008, known as “All Orange”, states that all track personnel must not only wear orange hi-vis waistcoats or jackets, but must also wear orange hi-vis trousers at all times when working on or near the track.
This new safety ruling came into force on 1 January 2009 for maintenance and property workers and on 1 April 2009 for infrastructure and investment sites.
In 2011 the company began the process of reorganising its operational structure into nine semi-autonomous regional entities, each with their own managing director; the first two units to be created were Scotland and Wessex regions. The re-organisation has been interpreted as a move back towards vertical integration of track and train operations.
Network Rail owns the infrastructure, including the railway tracks, signals, tunnels, bridges, level crossings and most stations, but not the passenger or commercial freight rolling stock.
Although it owns over 2,500 railway stations, it manages only 17 of the biggest and busiest of them, all the other stations being managed by one or other of the various train operating companies (TOCs). Network Rail had a 15-year lease on Square One in Manchester with 800 staff in one of Manchester’s largest refurbished office spaces.
Network Rail should not be confused with ‘National Rail’. National Rail is not an organisation, but merely a brand, used to explain and promote a Great-Britain-wide network of passenger railway services. The majority of Network Rail lines also carry freight traffic; some lines are freight only. A few lines that carry passenger traffic are not part of the National Rail network (for example High Speed 1, Heathrow Express, Tyne And Wear Metro (The Tyne and Wear Metro uses Network Rail track between Pelaw and Sunderland and is responsible for that) and the London Underground). Conversely, a few National Rail services operate over track that is not part of the Network Rail network (for example where they run on London Underground track).
The current Chairman is Richard Parry-Jones, and David Higgins is currently appointed as the Chief Executive.
Network Rail covers 20,000 miles of track, and 40,000 bridges and tunnels.
In October 2003 Network Rail announced that it would take over all infrastructure maintenance work from private contractors, following concerns about the quality of work carried out by certain private firms, and spiralling costs.
February 2004 saw the opening of an operations centre at Waterloo station in London, operated jointly by Network Rail and the train operating company South West Trains. This was the first full collaboration of its kind since privatisation, and it is regarded as a model for other areas of the network, with a further six integrated Network Rail + TOC Control Centres having opened since then, at Blackfriars, Croydon (Leading Control for First Capital Connect), Swindon, Birmingham, Glasgow and, most recently, Liverpool Street and South Wales based in Cardiff Canton.
Track renewal, the ongoing modernisation of the railway network by replacing track and signalling, continues to be carried out by private engineering firms under contract. The biggest renewals project is the multi-billion-pound upgrade of the London to Glasgow West Coast Main Line, which was completed in 2008.
Network Rail initially sub-contracted much of the work and the site to private Infrastructure Maintenance Companies such as Carillion and First Engineering. Other sub-contractors are used on site for specialist work or additional labour. These include Prima Services Group, Sky Blue, Balfour Beatty, Laboursite, BCL, Atkins (Atkins Rail) and McGinleys.
Since 2003 Network Rail has been building up significant in-house engineering skills, including funding of apprenticeship and foundation degree schemes. Network Rail reports significant savings resulting from the initial transfers of work away from contracting companies. Additional contracts were taken back by Network Rail after the serious accident at Potters Bar and other accidents at Rotherham and King’s Cross led Jarvis to pull out of the track repair business. Shortly after this, and due to other failures by maintenance companies, Network Rail took control of many more maintenance duties.
Telecomms maintenance came full circle in April 2009 with the bringing in house of the staff of Thales Telecom Services Ltd (formerly British Rail Telecommunications (BRT)).
In 2006, Network Rail made public a high-tech plan to combat the effects of slippery rail. This plan involves the use of satellites for tracking trouble areas, water-jetting trains and crews using railhead scrubbers, sand sticks and a substance called Natrusolve, which dissolves leaf mulch.
All workers working on, near or trackside have to undergo a Personal Track Safety assessment (re-assessed every two years) Network Rail workers undergo an assessment every year as part of AITL (Assessment in the Line). The AITL requires each worker to go through questions on a computer based program on all the competencies held.
In September 2007 it was announced that the number of track renewal contractors will be reduced to four from the current six. These are now Amey/SECO, Balfour Beatty, Babcock First Engineering and Jarvis PLC. Jarvis PLC has since gone into administration, with the bulk of its work commitments being picked up by Babcock.
Network Rail owns more than 2,500 railway stations, divided into six categories. Management and operation of most of them is carried out mostly by the principal train operating company serving that station; however, in a few cases the train operating company does not serve the station, for example Hinckley is managed but not served by East Midlands Trains. Network Rail manages and operates 17 of the largest and busiest stations directly, the stations Network Rail operate are:
• Birmingham New Street
• Edinburgh Waverley
• Glasgow Central (High Level)
• Liverpool Lime Street (High Level)
• London Bridge
• London Cannon Street
• London Charing Cross
• London Euston
• London Fenchurch Street
• London King’s Cross
• London Liverpool Street
• London Paddington
• London St Pancras (High Level)
• London Victoria
• London Waterloo
• Manchester Piccadilly
Glasgow Central, Liverpool Lime Street and London St Pancras stations are divided into high and low level stations – the high level stations are all termini used primarily by the main inter-city services to those stations. The low level stations are through routes on local commuter networks that are largely separate from other routes to the main station; these stations/platforms are not managed by Network Rail, but instead the rail operator that primarily uses them. Network Rail operated Gatwick Airport station until January 2012, when it was transferred to Southern. Network Rail will also take over operatorship of Reading when the station redevelopment is complete in 2015.
Telecom Assets of Network Rail
Network Rail operates various essential telecommunication circuits for signalling and electrification control systems, train radio systems, lineside communications, level crossing CCTV, station information and security systems as well as more general IT and business telephony needs. The fixed bearer network infrastructure comprises transmission systems and telephone exchanges linked by a fibre optic and copper cable network that is located mainly within trackside troughing routes on the former British Rail Telecommunications network. (It is the largest private telecoms network in the UK.)
Network Rail operates several analogue radio networks that support mobile communication applications for drivers and lineside workers which consist of base stations, antenna systems and control equipment. The National Radio Network (NRN) was developed specifically for the operational railway; it provides radio coverage for 98% of the rail network through 500 base stations and 21 radio exchanges. The Radio Electronic Token Block RETB system is based on similar technology as the NRN and ORN but provides data communication for signalling token exchange as well as voice communication.
Fixed communication at trackside is provided by telephone. These are primarily provided for signallers’ to communicate with train-crew, via telephones mounted on signal-posts, and with the public through telephones located at level crossings. GAI-Tronics provides many of the telephones sited on trackside and at level crossings. They also provide Public Access Help Points on platforms and stations to provide passengers with easy access to Information and Emergency control centres.
GSM-R radio systems are being introduced across Europe under EU legislation for interoperability. In the UK, Network Rail have established a stakeholders board with cross industry representation to drive the UK implementation of GSM-R to replace the National Radio Network (NRN) and Cab Secure Radio (CSR) systems currently in use.