Network Rail

UK: Network Rail has published an action plan setting out how it intends to meet a government target of awarding 33% of its annual expenditure to small and medium sized enterprises by 2022.

The infrastructure manager reported that its expenditure with SMEs had reached 25·6% in 2016-17, 26·8% in 2017-18 and 30·4% in 2018-19. While this was ahead of its plan, its targets were becoming harder to achieve.

To address this, NR has worked with the Railway Industry Association, Railway Industry Contractors Association, Civil Engineering Contractors Association, Rail Safety & Standards Board, Department for Transport and Department for Business Energy & Industrial Strategy to identify those factors which SMEs believe would help increase their share of work.

The resulting plan addresses six themes: Engagement, Pre-procurement, Procurement, Contract Management, Supplier Management and Innovation.

The action plan was welcomed by RIA, which has more than 290 members across the supply chain with 60% being SMEs.

‘SMEs are incredibly important to the rail industry’, said RIA’s Senior Policy Manager Damian Testa. ‘They are a source of new ideas and innovation, provide specialist products and services and are important for communities across the UK, often recruiting and upskilling people locally. However, it is important that rail provides a welcoming environment to these companies with easy routes into the market and support when faced with sometimes complex procurement processes.’