Balfour Beatty has been awarded a contract worth more than £40 million by Network Rail comprising operation and maintenance of the ‘Stoneblowers’ fleet of track maintenance machines.
Lasting four years, the contract will see the infrastructure company deliver at least 2,800 maintenance shifts each year on the rail network, with an option for an extra year.
Network Rail’s Stoneblowers are responsible for maintaining track across the network by a process that involves pneumatically injecting small stone under the sleepers, which fills voids and subsequently stabilises the track.
The owner and infrastructure manager of majority of the rail network in England currently owns 14 operational machines in its Stoneblower fleet; three are multi-purpose machines for use over all areas of the network, while the other 11 are plain line machines that are specific to geographical areas on the UK rail network.
The Managing Director of Balfour Beatty’s rail business, Mark Bullock, believes that this contract demonstrates the company’s ability.
“The award of this contract to maintain and operate Network Rail’s fleet of Stoneblowers demonstrates the technical rail expertise Balfour Beatty has gained over many generations of working on the railway.
“The contract is an exciting one for us as it not only includes the operation and maintenance of the current fleet, but also the introduction of seven new multi-purpose machines.
“We are delighted to be operating more plant for Network Rail on a national basis.”
The new multi-purpose machines that Mr Bullock spoke about are being introduced because Network Rail placed an order for these to replace the plain line fleet which is ageing.
All of these will be delivered by Balfour Beatty during this contract and they will enter service in 2020.
Balfour Beatty has had a busy few months, having relinquished part of its Connect Plus partnership, and stepped in to cover its contracts that were part of a joint venture with Carillion.
This latest contract will see 140 people employed, with apprentices and graduates also involved, and work has already started.