Building on the successes of 2016 for a strong 2017

David Brewer | 06 Feb 2017 | Comments

The world around us is constantly changing and nowhere does that seem truer than for the rail industry, which is in an ever-evolving state of flux. High levels of unpredictability and change breed uncertainty and create an environment which is extraordinarily complex to navigate. This complexity permeates all areas of the industry; it is regulatory, policy-based, political and structural.

And yet the flipside of challenge is opportunity. At Atkins, we work tirelessly to create innovative people-driven solutions to help our clients provide a safer, more reliable, more efficient and more comfortable travel experience for rail passengers.

Throughout 2016, we won numerous awards for our work on and collaborative approach to a wide range of rail projects, from the Stafford Area Improvements Programme and the Birmingham Gateway Project to the redevelopment of Rochester station. Our investment in new innovations such as Digital Imaging Correlation technology for the monitoring of bridge structures or the application of fibre-optic surveying technology to the instrumentation of bridges has been recognised by our industry peers.

Notably, we brought our wide-ranging expertise to bear on numerous high-profile programmes. These include East West Rail Phase One, Crossrail 2, Thameslink Traffic Management Programme, High Speed 2 Phase One and the Stafford Area Improvements Programme.

The final stage of the East West Rail Phase One rail network was opened by the Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, in December 2016, delivering a step-change in regional connectivity for passengers. The new section of line runs between Oxford and Oxford Parkway, providing a brand new rail link from Oxford to central London.

Atkins' role in the scheme ranged from feasibility studies, through the Transport Works Act and onto the detailed design phase, delivering station upgrades and construction, earthworks, bridges, tunnel works, track and signalling systems for Chiltern Railways, Network Rail and most recently the Carillion - Buckingham Joint Venture.

In July, an Atkins and CH2M team was awarded a £1.5-million contract to deliver the Stage 1 On-Networks Systems programme for Network Rail on the proposed Crossrail 2 project.

The project team is working collaboratively on the development of the upgrade designs for the Network Rail-owned stations, tracks and rail infrastructure on either side of the proposed tunnelled section, which will play a key role in Crossrail 2.

The first stage of the work is to develop the initial proposals to support the revision to the business case and to enable the next public consultation. Subject to acceptance of the business case, this process will culminate in the submission of the Hybrid Bill to Parliament in 2019, as recommended by the National Infrastructure Commission.

The summer also saw Atkins awarded the design and engineering contract for the Thameslink Traffic Management Programme. This sees us support Hitachi Information Control Systems (HICSE) and Hitachi Rail Europe with the delivery of the Tranista® Traffic Management System (TMS) for Network Rail's Thameslink programme.

HICSE appointed Atkins to review its Tranista system to ensure that it meets Network Rail's functional and operational requirements for compatibility with the UK rail network. As such, a multi-disciplinary team from Atkins will provide a variety of detailed design and engineering services through GRIP stages 4 and 5.

In March, Atkins won a contract to become Engineering Delivery Partner (EDP) for High Speed 2, Phase One, as part of a joint venture with CH2M and SENER.

The contract, valued at between £250 million and £350 million, is expected to run for 10 years, extendable through to the commissioning of the railway, and covers the civils, stations, planning and environment, and railway systems aspects of Phase One of the project.

As part of the Staffordshire Alliance, the first collaboration of its kind for the UK rail industry, we successfully completed the Stafford Area Improvements Programme. Passengers are benefiting from a better railway with improved train services through the Stafford area, after a new section of railway was opened at Norton Bridge.

The new railway removes one of the last major bottlenecks on the West Coast main line, helping to create the capacity for more frequent services through the Stafford area, as well as speeding up journeys and improving reliability on one of the busiest rail routes in Europe.

We have also been proud to assume prestigious industry roles, which see us contributing to the development of the world around us. Lawrie Quinn, project director, Transportation at Atkins, was appointed as the new regional chair of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) in London for a two-year term, while Richard East, chief engineer, Transportation at Atkins, is serving in the role of chairman of the Railway division of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE).

Atkins played a prominent role in 2016's inaugural Rail Week, showcasing the opportunities for developing new skills in the sector. Atkins is committed to a number of in-house initiatives to increase diversity in age, gender, ethnicity, sexuality and socio-economic background in the transport sector. As a business, we are proud to have over 500 STEM ambassadors. In the financial year 2015/6, Atkins' people participated in 350+ school-based outreach activities, reaching over 5,000 students. There are currently over 240 apprentices at Atkins and the business takes on 300 new graduates a year.

In 2017 and beyond, we remain committed to working collaboratively, harnessing innovative approaches, implementing digital technology and contributing to vital industry initiatives to help transform our ever-changing world and enrich lives.