Network Rail has awarded a contract worth £257 million for the supply and maintenance of portable plant.
Lasting for a period of six years and set to start at the beginning of April the portable plant contract includes all small plant for the railway that are powered by external means, including rail drills, torque wrenches, chainsaws and handheld tamping machines.
In addition, the contract, which has an option to be extended for a further two years, will include any related consumables, be these oil to repairs and spare parts.
There are 13 agreements as part of the portable plant contract – one for each of Network Rail’s routes.
Awarded to VP Plc, the contract will cover the maintenance and repair of 28,000 items of small plant owned by Network Rail, as well as hire and supply of other small plant.
As a result of the six-year contract, Network Rail’s routes will benefit from more options to switch from using owned, petrol-operated small plant, to more sustainable, battery-operated hired items.
Network Rail’s lead sourcing manager is Garry Pyne. He explained the battery-operated option is better.
He said: “The plant now available for hire is innovative and modern, more reliable and cheaper to maintain.
“It is better for the environment and its lower vibration levels mean it is safer for our employees.
“The battery-operated vegetation clearance kit is much quieter, which is better for people living by the railway.
“We are also rolling out Bluetooth tracking on desirable items, so they are less likely to be lost or stolen.
“There’s a real opportunity and incentive to switch to hiring new small plant and start to phase out our older, owned plant.”
The upshot will be access to more than 235 local depots, reducing delivery times; service levels will be enhanced, and there are cost savings to the tune of £2.5 million forecast.