We are encouraging contractors, suppliers and stakeholders to propose changes to our standards.
Standards are the detailed requirements that underpin how the railway and the delivery of improvement projects are run. The changes are to encourage greater innovation, cost efficiency and third party funding into the rail network, whilst maintaining safety.
We have already updated and streamlined 400 of these standards to reduce both complexity and cost, and to encourage innovation. Suppliers and other stakeholders can proactively suggest better ways of maintaining and enhancing the railway via our new standards challenge process.
Standards exist to ensure Britain has a safe, high performing and cost efficient railway, but they are often seen as overly complex and adding unnecessary cost. Our response to the Hansford Review identified a number of opportunities to address this by encouraging suppliers and other stakeholders to proactively challenge standards to increase innovation and creativity, and propose more cost effective solutions.
We've adopted a collaborative and iterative approach in developing the new standards challenge process in partnership with the Railway Industry Association (RIA) and a number of key suppliers and stakeholders.
As part of the process, suppliers and other stakeholders can now submit a standards challenge application when they consider the standard to be incorrect, not enable the application of best practice, or drive increased cost without comparable benefit. We will review all challenges received, and conduct a rigorous impact assessment across a broad range of output capabilities such as safety, performance, environment and compatibility to make sure the capabilities are not compromised.
Following the launch of the process, we are progressively introducing a series of incentives to encourage challenges. These include:
- Providing our corporate recognition of successful applications through jointly authored and promoted case studies
- Introducing a future category for standards challenge and innovation in industry awards
- Seeking suppliers to identify potential standards that could be challenged within tender returns
- Assessing ongoing contract performance in relation to standards challenge and innovation
- Enabling suppliers and other parties to introduce innovative approaches/products to the industry following a successful application
- In certain scenarios sharing a proportion of the identified savings realised arising from a successful standards challenge in design and construction projects
As the scope covers Network Rail’s whole portfolio of policies, standards, processes and specifications, including initiating dialogue with the Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) in relation to Railway Group and Industry Standards, there’s excitement to see what limitations can unanimously be removed and the opportunities that will be enabled through successful challenges.
We’ve recently updated our 400 most critical standards but to ensure they always represent current best practice and constantly strive to safely reduce the cost of the railway, we need the help of our wider industry partners as well as experts from other industries and universities. The launch of the standards challenge process is the lever for this, providing genuine recognition and incentives to propose more efficient ways of both enhancing and maintaining our railway.
Jon Shaw, chief engineer at Network Rail
Challenges received so far
As of December 2018, we’ve received 31 challenges where contractors, suppliers and other stakeholders tell us they can improve current best practice, and safely reduce the cost of running the railway. In addition to the 400 most critical standards we’ve updated already, we’ve opened ourselves up for other standards to be challenged if better ways of maintaining and enhancing the railway can be suggested. So far, the challenges received relate to track (10), electrical power (7), buildings & civils (6), quality, safety, health & environment (3), projects (2), Network Rail assurance panel (2), and signalling electrical power (1). You can download a more technical and detailed list of the standards challenged to date from our downloads for third parties page.
We are reviewing all challenges received, and will conduct a rigorous impact assessment to make sure safety, performance, compatibility and the environment are not compromised.
An example challenge: British Steel
British Steel has challenged some designs of our overhead line masts. They believe our current design standards mean some masts are fabrication intensive, use higher cost products and require structural steel not currently produced or stocked in the UK.
We’re evaluating and progressing their challenge through a series of collaborative workshops. The potential benefits their challenge proposes include:
- UK economic boost, helping increase our UK-sourced steel to over 97 per cent
- Locally sourced materials, reduced lead time, reduced carbon footprint
- Lower manufacturing cost
- Lower material cost
- Lower transportation cost
- Potential for up to 50 per cent cost saving for certain designs
Our rail and construction teams have formed a close working relationship with Network Rail, who’ve an excellent record of supporting UK manufacturing. By working in partnership, and accepting challenges like this, we hope to make it easier for Network Rail to source more high quality, cost effective products manufactured in the UK.
John Austin, account manager, British Steel
List of challenges to standards received
|Applicant||Subject||Area||Summary of challenge|
|TSP Projects||Modular steel platforms||Buildings & civils||Clarification of the current prescribed design life of platforms and minimum steel galvanising levels|
|British Steel||Overhead Line Equipment (OLE) mast design||Electrical power||Potential simplification of fabricated overhead line masts|
|Network Rail||Planning & managing construction work||Quality, safety, health & environment||Potential for contractor's construction phase plans to be referenced to the Network Rail template sections|
|SNC-Lavalin||Track design handbook module 07 gauging||Track||Potential simplification as several sections reference requirements for other disciplines|
|SNC-Lavalin||Track design handbook system interfaces - Electrical clearances||Track||Potential simplification as several sections reference requirements for other disciplines|
|SNC-Lavalin||Track design handbook system interfaces - conductor rail||Track||Potential simplification as several sections reference requirements for other disciplines|
|SNC-Lavalin||Track design handbook system interfaces - platforms||Track||Potential simplification as several sections reference requirements for other disciplines|
|SNC-Lavalin||Track design handbook system interfaces - level crossings||Track||Potential simplification as several sections reference requirements for other disciplines|
|Kwik-Step Ltd||Lineside access steps||Buildings & civils||Design requirements for lineside access steps|
|Network Rail||Specific document NR/L2/RSE/100/Guide||Network Rail Assurance Panel||Request for document to be withdrawn as it is out of date|
|Network Rail||Requirements framework||Projects||Clarification on accountability|
|Kwik-Step Ltd||Electrical clearances||Electrical power||Providing improved clarity|
|Kwik-Step Ltd||Positions of safety||Quality, safety, health & environment||Providing improved clarity|
|Network Rail||Train borne monitoring of traction power contact systems||Electrical power||Clarification in relation to a number of requirements|
|Grand Central||Wheel impact load detection||Track||Controls applied to trains following measurement of forces at Wheel Impact Load Detection (WILD) sites|
|Amey||DNO test points||Quality, safety, health & environment||Providing test points for DNO supply cubicles|
|Amey||Points heating equipment||Electrical power||Using lower power points heating strips nearer the switch toe|
|J Murphy & Sons||Line speed following drainage works||Track||Proposal for more cost-effective regime of track stabilisation following installation of drainage|
|Amey||Track affected zone||Track||Proposal to change the influence angle for the track affected zone|
|Atkins||Buffer locking||Track||Update to calculations to include vehicles without buffers, autocoupler limits and lateral movement of through-corridor trains|
|Rail Asset Development Ltd||Monitoring track during building works||Buildings & Civils||Improving clarity of requirements for monitoring of track in various situations|
|Amey Sersa||Stretcher bar settings||Track||Improving clarity of installation and maintenance instructions for new stretcher bars at switches and crossings|
|Amey||Earth electrode/mat connections||Signalling electrical power||Clarification of requirements|
|Network Rail||Bridge strengthening||Buildings & Civils||Minimum train live loading values applied to bridge strengthening schemes|
|Siemens Rail||Non-application of design for reliability standard to signalling fibre interface||Network Rail Assurance Panel||Potential for non-application of requirements for certain commercial off-the-shelf components|
|Network Rail||Clarity around authority to work roles||Projects||Clarification concerning authority of certain roles|
|Network Rail||Engineering assurance requirements||Electrical power||Document listed in references has been withdrawn|
|Mott MacDonald||Wind loading on Overhead Line Equipment (OLE) structures||Buildings & Civils||Alignment of wind loading equations|
|Amey||Points heating equipment||Electrical power||Proposed changes to the arrangement drawings for electric points heating equipment|
|Amey||Points heating equipment||Electrical power||Transformer terminal arrangements for supplying point strip heaters|
|TSP Projects||Platform crossfall||Buildings & civils||Ability to construct platforms that achieve the specified crossfall gradient limits|
How to submit a challenge
We are encouraging contractors, suppliers and other stakeholders to proactively suggest better ways of maintaining and enhancing the railway via our standards challenge process. You can submit a challenge to any of our standards by reading the guidance for completing the standards challenge application and completing a standards challenge form found on our downloads for third parties page. If after reading the catalogue of Network Rail standards you'd like to make a challenge, you can request a copy of the standard by emailing the standards management team: firstname.lastname@example.org
Resources for download
Stakeholder relations code of practice250 Kb
Applying for or extending franchise contracts36 Kb
Developing and purchasing Network Rail land181 Kb
The railway systems code of practice183 Kb
Accessing Network Rail standards for contractors and suppliers179 Kb
Getting access to stations managed by Network Rail208 Kb
Renting property from Network Rail (excluding retail units at the stations we manage)23 Kb
Commercial filming on Network Rail property190 Kb
Supplying works, services or products to Network Rail188 Kb
Passenger track access for existing train operators210 Kb
Freight/charter track access for existing train operators81 Kb
Freight/charter track access for new or potential train operators111 Kb
Freight connection contracts186 Kb
Introducing new vehicles or changes to vehicles220 Kb
Passenger track access for new and potential train operators210 Kb
Investing in the network710 Kb
Guidance for completing the Standards Challenge Application292 Kb
Standards Challenge Form48 Kb
Open for Business supporting information for pilot contestable projects507 Kb
Full details of standards challenged to date35 Kb
Asset protection and optimisation – Customer satisfaction – Dec 2018548 Kb
Asset protection and optimisation – Service levels – Dec 2018668 Kb
Default risk allocation table – third party asset protection agreement256 Kb
Network Rail Service Level Obligations for Third Party Asset Protection Agreements February 2019 Pending ORR Approval119 Kb