Trains and Automobiles – Speaking the Same Infrastructure Language?

No element of the nation’s infrastructure exists in isolation. Airports need reliable road and rail links to feed them, roads and rail lines are frequently in close proximity and often cross. And even just within the highways sector, adjacent major and minor roads can be maintained by different bodies and different contractors.
Work on one part of the transport infrastructure often has an impact on another. When work is uncoordinated the result is disruption that could have been avoided and an inefficient use of public or private investment.

Many contractors work across rail and highways. In theory, this should simplify matters. No matter what area of infrastructure the contractor is responsible for on a particular project, there ought to be an awareness and management of how that work might affect adjacent or intersecting infrastructure of a different type.

The customer experience is often somewhat different, with contractors working in project or discipline-specific silos. Mutual consideration and sharing of expertise might happen, but rarely to the degree needed to deliver enhanced value and minimise long-term disruption for travellers.

Contractor Responsibilities

As public investment becomes scarcer, this situation needs to change. Contractors must assume greater responsibility for proactively managing third party risks. They need to take the initiative and achieve a higher degree of collaboration with organisations responsible for neighbouring infrastructure assets.

This is partly a question of better systems, data sharing in common formats, and enhanced communication. To a large extent it is also about a state of mind and a willingness to work differently. When we focus less on the priorities of our individual organisation or project, and more on the long-term value derived from our national infrastructure investment, everyone wins.

By making full use of our rail experience and our knowledge of the engineering standards required by Network Rail, we have managed to de-risk and accelerate numerous highways projects that have intersected the rail network.

These projects have been highly challenging but have delivered significant benefits to local communities by taking a broader perspective and considering more comprehensive needs and outcomes.

Find out more by visiting Highways learning pages on our website.

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