UK rail infrastructure owner Network Rail has selected NEC4 contracts to procure a £1.8 billion framework for delivering and maintaining digital train control systems on its East Coast main line.
Design-only and design–build–maintain ‘call-off’ contracts will be let via the framework under the NEC4 Professional Service Contract (PSC) and NEC4 Design Build and Operate (DBO) contract respectively.
The first call-off contracts are expected to be a PSC for outline design of a train control system covering the southern section of the route, from London King Cross to Peterborough North, and a DBO for designing, building and maintaining a train control system for the Finsbury Park to Moorgate branch.
Philip Bennett, commercial director for Network Rail said, ‘The decision to use NEC4 contracts was based on a desire to use a form of contract that was well recognised, as well as being highly regarded by the supply chain.’
He added NEC4, ‘reflected our approach of putting long-term, collaborative relationships at the heart of the delivery strategy for the East Coast main line. For the first time, we were also keen to include a design, build and maintain contract and the NEC4 DBO allows us to do this.’
In addition to preparation of outline designs, the PSC contract scopes will include supporting the development of alternative commercial and financial models as well as outline and full business case submissions if required.
Wide DBO scope
The DBO scopes will include preparation of detailed design; supply of products, goods and services; installation and integration of end-to-end systems (including mobile and fixed telecommunications); commissioning of the new systems; and maintaining the systems for 30 years.
Network Rail, which owns and manages 32,000 km of rail track and 40,00 structures, has been somewhat more cautious than many other UK public-sector infrastructure clients in switching from its traditional forms of contract to NEC. The latest procurement is therefore widely seen as a positive move.
The East Coast main line digital railway framework forms part of its planned £47 billion investment programme for control period 6, which runs from 2019 to 2024. A spokesman said, ‘NEC3 is already extensively in use across our Southern region and will feature to a similar degree during CP6. Our digital railway programme is our first major investment programme to use NEC4.’