Mitigating Railway risks on third party Local Authority highway projects

Local highway authorities are progressively turning to single sourced framework agreements to balance increasing highway capacity demands with ever reducing capital and operational budgets.

In taking this step a key concern is ensuring you have the necessary rail related knowledge and experience in your chosen framework provider. This is vital to ensure your project and third party engagement risks are comprehensively identified and managed on your behalf.

Osborne has its own Contractors Operating License and has extensive experience of working with Network Rail at each stage of the GRIP (1 to 8) process, and the Network Rail Standards and Approvals processes. A slip up at any stage in the GRIP process can, unfortunately, introduce significant and often non-recoverable delays for your project.

On each project we manage, early engagement with Network Rail is crucial, so that outline design concepts and proposed construction methodologies can be discussed in principle before detailing commences. A philosophy of ensuring that Network Rail is fully engaged as far as is required during the design phase for both temporary and permanent works is adopted via the Network Rail Outside Parties / Asset Protection teams and, importantly, a culture of “no surprises” is maintained.

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This experience enables our team to support you in the management of the Asset Protection Agreement (APA) and in your negotiations with Network Rail to achieve your project objectives as efficiently and effectively as possible.

Our approach to de-risk your highways projects interfacing with or crossing the railway is outlined below;

At the Project Inception stage, we will manage communication and coordination with Network Rail to ensure early agreement is reached of the applicable standards and/or submissions criteria, including any specialised requirements like booking of blockades, abnormal possessions, OLE Engineers, signal sighting and asset protection as examples. We are also able to advise and support with issues such as top-up insurance to the £155m as required by Network Rail on some Basic Asset Protection Agreement (BAPA) and outside party agreements.

It is vitally important to confirm the lead authority for design submissions and the descriptions to be covered within either a Network Rail Form 001 or an Approval in Principle. Clarity on design parameters and/or applicable standards is paramount in producing an efficient design. With regards to site investigation and survey works, we have a good relationship with the ASPRO Team at Network Rail and we are able to directly arrange access onto track via GZAC’s “Green Zone Working” and by providing in-house Safety Critical Staff including COSS’s and Engineering Supervisors for work under rail possessions. Ensuring vital design information investigations can be implemented quickly and efficiently.

Osborne has a wealth of staff approved by Network Rail to act as CRE’s and CEMs – the competencies required to sign off F002 – F003’s, review Works Package Plans and Temporary Works Proposals against Network Rail standards. We also have in excess of 120 directly employed staff working permanently in the rail environment including a Possession Planning Team, Supervision and Safety Critical Staff who are developing and undertaking projects ranging from station maintenance to emergency embankment slippages, new station builds and bridge replacements.

We are able to provide expert advice and peer reviews on submissions, design development and contingency planning to ensure well planned, efficient solutions developed utilising our in-house expertise.

We are currently undertaking a number of rail-related projects for outside parties including Central Bedfordshire where we are replacing a bridge deck over the East Coast Main Line, and Featherbed Lane Bridge at Apsley for a residential developer – designing and building the new bridge offline to be launched over the Railway.

Osborne is currently working directly with Network Rail to deliver collaborative framework on the Wessex Route with a contract value of approximately £250m for 5 years. This involves a multi-asset discipline capability, designing and delivering all building and civil engineering works. This single source framework has recently submitted over 1000 ‘first time approved’ design submissions.

The inclusive service utilises our in-house Osborne Rail Planners to confirm the availability of normal track possessions, and identify any abnormal possessions which we may be able to ‘piggy back’ onto and therefore provide the opportunity to expedite the project programme. We have considerable experience of the possession planning process with direct access to the Network Rail PPS booking system and have been planning and booking possessions through our possession planning team for over ten years. We have planned and completed in the region of 25,000 possessions and line blocks across a wide geographical area.

Our in-house specialist possession management team will support the project team who are experienced in working with and for Network Rail and are, therefore, fully conversant with the requirements. Additionally, we have a long-standing team of in-house Safety Critical Staff including COSS and Approved Contractors Responsible Engineers (CRE) for temporary and permanent works. These are invaluable in providing the certainty and efficiency required of possession work. Upon completion of the detailed designs, the precise possession limits and worksites will be discussed along with work content in the Possession Planning meetings.

Please contact us for any help and support to identify and remove your project and stakeholder risks associated with the railway interface.

Richard King CEng MICE is a Director at Osborne and Chairman of CECA Southern

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