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Helping small and medium-sized businesses across Britain

We work with thousands of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) all over Britain to look after the railway.

Find out how we’re supporting these companies and why it matters.

SMEs: the backbone of the economy

In November 2022, the Department for Education reported that SMEs represent 99% of businesses in the UK. SMEs employ millions of people and are fundamental to economic growth. We recognise that supporting these small and medium businesses means supporting the economy. In fact, SMEs already “make a big contribution to the rail network,” according to Clive Berrington, group commercial and procurement director at Network Rail.

An SME action plan

In November 2019 we set out an action plan to make it easier for small to medium-sized organisations to work with us. It also aimed to increase the number of tendering opportunities we offered for SMEs.

There are lots of benefits of working with SMEs. Clive said: “By supporting SMEs to work on the railway, we increase competition and drive down costs while also increasing efficiency, creativity, and innovation.”

Positive results

In the last financial year, we worked with more than 3,000 SMEs. In fact, 75% of the 4,130 suppliers directly contracted by us were SMEs. We gave these companies £1.3bn of business.

The Government set us a target to spend a third of our third-party expenditure with SMEs – and we spent a total of 34.9%.

The future

We’re proud of what we’ve achieved so far – but we’re not done yet. We’ll review and refresh our SME action plan this year to further support smaller companies. Clive said: “We remain committed to offering them opportunities to work on the railway.”\

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