Safety and service is central to everything we do. We expect all our suppliers to support us in working sustainably to deliver world-class safety and a service that puts passengers and freight users first.

Every year, we spend around £7bn on works, services or products, and we’re committed to maximising the value delivered by each and every supplier. We currently have around 11,000 listed suppliers – 4,000 of these were engaged in the last financial year.

As a supplier to Network Rail, it is important to understand how we measure our company performance. We do this through national and local scorecards which provide a clear view of performance throughout the company. The national scorecard is published every period and shows how Network Rail is performing against 21 measures. It shows the annual target, the most recent performance figures and a forecast of where the company expects to be at the end of the year.

Supplier management

Supplier Management is about enabling collaborative, innovative, value adding relationships with our suppliers, whilst ensuring that contractual obligations are met, and supply chain risks are effectively managed.

Our vision is to manage the relationship with our supply chain to drive value in a safe, efficient and sustainable way in line with Network Rail values with an aim to be net zero. Supplier management is made up of three activities that support and build upon each other, namely, contract management, supplier performance management, and supplier relationship management.

Contract management is the process of effectively managing and governing contracts to ensure they deliver maximum operational and financial value, improve compliance whilst mitigating service delivery risk over the life of the contract. It focuses on realising the full anticipated value of the contract and managing contract changes.

Supplier performance management is the process of targeted evaluation, measuring and monitoring of supplier performance and to use the results to drive appropriate interventions to improve outcomes with suppliers in line with organisational goals. It builds on contract management to actively measure, report, monitor and enhance the value the supplier can deliver.

Relationship management is the practices and behaviours adopted to engage more collaboratively with strategic suppliers to improve delivery of Network Rail core business objectives and commercial strategy and increase mutual value beyond that originally contracted.  It builds on supplier performance management and is used to collaborate with suppliers to create new value above what they are contracted to do.

We work with suppliers committed to the highest standards of ethical behaviour and safety performance. We set out our expectations in our Code of Conduct, which is cascaded through our supply chain.

We want suppliers of all sizes and types to understand what social value we want to be delivered, so they can bid successfully for Network Rail business, creating a vibrant, healthy, innovative, competitive and diverse marketplace of suppliers. We want to see services delivered with values at their heart, where the wider social benefits matter and are recognised.

We believe that rail has huge potential to play a vital role in a more sustainable future and a greener economy and, as a result, we have adopted science based targets to help reduce our carbon emissions. We have set our targets to the most ambitious pathway to limit our emissions to within a 1.5oc warming scenario. Around a thousand companies across the world have made a commitment to science based targets but only around 200 have committed to this most ambitious level and we are really pleased to be the first railway in the world to do so.

Our supply chain accounts for around two thirds of our emissions so we need to work closely with you to cut the overall carbon footprint of the industry and make the biggest positive difference.

Our aim is that 75% of our suppliers (by emissions) will have set their own science based targets by 2025.  We would like to that much sooner if possible.  As a result, we’ve committed to working more closely with suppliers to help you set your own targets. We are establishing carbon metrics, KPIs, and targets for key suppliers/contracts and working with them to provide regular reporting.

Introducing PRISM

Our supplier performance procedures are here to support you in providing an effective service. PRISM is one of the tools we use to assess the performance of our capital works suppliers. We also use PRISM to assess our own performance.

PRISM was developed in conjunction with the rail industry supply chain and various in-house functions to drive a culture of continuous performance improvement. The PRISM process enhances existing project management meetings (for example, progress meetings) rather than adding additional requirements. It requires project managers to document discussions that should already be happening.

Project managers and scheme project managers who manage and deal directly with suppliers on projects should complete these forms. These people are best placed to give an objective and evidence-based view of performance on a contract.

The PRISM performance improvement tool should be used on all project contracts that are:

  • above £50k in value
  • longer than three periods in duration.

1. Contract kick-off meeting
This enables the supplier and our project manager to agree the behavioural values applicable for future reference and a timetable of progress meetings that will incorporate PRISM reviews.

2. Project managers’ bi-period performance progress meeting
These meetings can be held once per period (if required) and are run as follows:

  • A. Review and agreement with the supplier of the PRISM performance scores and associated commentary, taking into account the scoring definitions for both parties and capture within the PRISM performance tool.
  • B. Discussion of areas for improvement and tracking of progress against any actions, as part of the normal project management process where appropriate.
  • C. Both parties to sign a printed copy of the scorecard.
  • D. Our project manager should then forward the Excel PRISM scorecard and a scan of the countersigned paper scorecard to

3. Data consolidation
Submissions to the PRISM mailbox are consolidated centrally once at the end of each period. Forms must be fully and correctly submitted by the Thursday of week four in each period.

4. Data reporting
Supplier Engagement team will update a dashboard by supplier, category, region and project which will be available within Network Rail by the Thursday of week one.

Supplier Engagement team will send suppliers a report of their latest PRISM returns by the Thursday of each week one; these reports will document the PRISM scores for Supplier Account Management (SAM) meetings.

High performing / underperforming projects will be discussed at SAM meetings with the aim of improving the performance of current and future contracts.

If you have any questions, comments or would like a team briefing on the process, please email

Sustainable development for Britain’s SMEs and communities

We directly employ 40,000 people and support another 117,000 in our supply chain, many of them providing access to employment, training and apprenticeship schemes.

Supporting local communities is an important part of our contract with suppliers. We not only ask suppliers to identify opportunities to recruit people from the local area and provide entry-level employment opportunities, but we also ask them to procure goods and services from SMEs and social enterprises, supporting local business and the local economy where possible.

Each supplier is also invited to volunteer in their local area and support initiatives that have a direct benefit to the local community.

We are committed to achieving the government SME spend target and helping to build a strong and sustainable SME market. Find out more about our commitment to SMEs in our dedicated SME hub.

Find out more about our approach to sustainability.

We’re transforming, making it easier for other organisations to invest in, and build on the railway.

Although Network Rail owns and operates Britain's railway, we believe we shouldn’t be the only organisation that can invest and build on it.

In the past, we have been viewed by other organisations wishing to invest or build on the railway as a gatekeeper and difficult to work with. So we commissioned the Hansford Review to investigate how we could remove barriers and transform, and make it easier for other organisations. We are now implementing the recommendations of the Hansford Review as part of the Open for Business programme.

Part of this programme is to introduce contestability – putting railway projects out to market for other organisations to deliver. Visit our Open for Business pages for information about projects we’re seeking other organisations to invest in, finance and deliver.

Our supply chain charter

In order to provide a safe, reliable, efficient and sustainable railway fit for the 21st century, our ambition is to establish a world class supply chain that builds long term mutually beneficial relationships and encourages joint strategic development – in a fair, transparent and consistent way.

We will:

  • provide a safe and healthy working environment for all
  • deliver quality work to the agreed time and cost
  • abide by the RIA Value Improvement Programme Code of Practice
  • train our people to the appropriate level
  • learn from our mistakes and resolve issues together – without blame
  • continuously improve and develop
  • not tolerate continued poor performance.

Working together we will:

  • jointly develop and deliver whole-life best value solutions
  • support and collaborate with each other
  • value and harness the diversity of our people
  • communicate on time, in a concise, clear
  • and open way
  • share ideas, plans and information
  • identify, inform and manage risks together
  • recognise that everyone’s contribution matters
  • avoid duplication and waste.

Our actions will:

  • innovate and delight customers
  • take ownership and responsibility for what we do
  • display high ethical standards in our actions
  • promote and celebrate success
  • make the rail industry a desirable place to work.

Showing respect means we will:

  • respect the environment, communities and the people we work with
  • always treat each other honestly, with openness and courtesy
  • pay on time for work delivered
  • adhere to mutually agreed terms
  • treat all information received as confidential.

Materials quality assurance

Our Materials Quality Team provides customer-focused supplier quality assurance (SQA) activities and materials engineering technical expertise, supporting the materials business units within Route Services.

The Materials Quality Team provide the following services:

  • SQA for new and existing critical products supplied to the business (components and systems, rail, switches and crossings, aggregates, sleepers, materials and recycling)
  • critical supplier audit assurance covering 150,000 products in signalling, electrification and power, track, switches and crossings, and telecoms disciplines
  • responsive materials quality support and forensic investigation
  • recycling activities support to assure critical materials supplied are fit for purpose
  • internal process, system, work instruction and procedures guidance
  • ISO 9001 certification of internal business activities
  • quality management contracts and procurement support.

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