Network Rail owns, manages and develops our railways across England, Scotland and Wales. As well as all the tracks, bridges and tunnels, this also includes 20 of the largest stations. They employ 6,000 people and in 2020 they were responsible for 25% of all construction spending in the UK. To give you an idea of scale, in 2021, their spending across all suppliers equated to nearly £3.5bn.
They operate over 60 services and require everything from recruitment services to HR and training, from vegetation management to consultancy services, as well as their core requirements to build and maintain the rail infrastructure.
We have been helping clients to respond to Rail tenders for over 10 years, thanks to our team of professional bid writers. For Network Rail opportunities, we can provide a full bid writing support solution, allowing our clients to focus on the provision of their service and pricing, while we work on developing the very best tender responses.
Network Rail Frameworks – over 35% of suppliers are SMEs!!!
We specialise in bid writing and bid management services for SMEs. Network Rail presents a great opportunity for SMEs with 35.6% supply chain representation. This includes frameworks, contracts and supply chain opportunities via Tier 1 suppliers/ contractors.
To understand what a ‘framework’ is click this link to see our detailed overview.
Network Rail has identified the barriers and challenges for SMEs when bidding for formal contracts have created procurement solutions to make them more accessible. This includes:
- Assessment of insurance requirements
- Stopping the use of performance bonds
- Provide a tender pipeline to allow bid preparation and planning. You can monitor Network Rail spend, contracts registers, category manager contact details, tender and renewals here
- Simplified PQQs (pre-qualification questionnaires) with fewer questions – we explain what a PQQ is in this article
- Increase early engagement, and time with Network Rail to understand the requirements
- Focus on delivering Social Value. We have developed a detailed article on Social Value when bidding, including examples, which can be found here
- Network Rail Fair Payment Charter - which includes agreeing on fair terms and conditions, main contractors being paid within 21 days and subcontractors' payments not exceeding 28 days
- Having a dedicated Network Rail SME Champion
- A commitment to move away from ‘nil value frameworks’ with a focus more on specific contracts
- Tier 1 suppliers of Network Rail to commit and report on SME spending in their supply chain.
Network Rail Frameworks 2023
As a bid director, company director or business development team it is important to understand what Network Rail buys and what tenders are likely to be available in order to you to plan for any upcoming opportunities:
Network Rail Procurement/ Framework Categories
Electricity, water and gas for offices, stations and depots, including electricity for powering trains
Track renewal projects and maintenance support
Operational telecoms, all voice and data, and hardware
Switches and crossings, and ancillaries tenders
Modular and traditional railway switches and crossings, including related ancillaries (switches and crossings are part of the rail system at junctions between different rail lines)
Supplies and services tenders
Equipment used by operational staff: office supplies, uniforms, and corporate travel and accommodation
Sleepers and bearers tenders
Concrete, steel and timber sleepers and bearers, and cable troughing (sleepers hold the rails apart and support the track on the ballast)
Design, build and maintenance of railway signalling systems
Security solutions tenders
Security equipment, manned security and policing costs
Road fleet tenders
Road fleet costs, including purchase, hire and maintenance.
Recruitment services tenders
Recruitment services related to both permanent and temporary staff (excluding consultants and contingent labour)
Railway spares tenders
Spares required for the maintenance of the railway infrastructure
Rail haulage tenders
Logistics and operation of rail haulage
Rail fleet tenders
Purchase and maintenance of rail wagons and locomotives, including seasonal treatment fleet
Rail and ancillaries tenders
Short (60ft) rail
Professional services tenders
Railway infrastructure design, technical consultancy and commercial services
Plant and tools tenders
Plant and tools, including hand tools and portable plant
On-track plant tenders
On-track plant (for example, road rail vehicles)
On-track machines tenders
On-track machines for treatment and maintenance of the track
Intelligent infrastructure tenders
Train-and non-train-mounted remote condition monitoring systems for the monitoring of the rail infrastructure
Infrastructure support services (on-and-off track) tenders
Support services for infrastructure maintenance, including track and vegetation clearance
Information technology tenders
IT services including software, hardware and business systems
HR and training tenders
External training and staff benefits
General civils tenders
Construction not related to station redevelopment
Facilities (soft services) tenders
Office and station service, including waste management, cleaning and catering
Facilities (hard services) tenders
General building maintenance, including air conditioning, heating and property management
Electrification and fixed plant tenders
Projects, materials and services to support the electrified part of the rail infrastructure
Contingent labour tenders
Temporary infrastructure labour (including possession management) working under the direction of Network Rail
Business consultancy tenders
Consultancy for business services, including marketing services, legal services, management consultancy, financial and insurance services
Station building and renewals (shop fitting and renovation of existing stations)
Ballast and associated loading and unloading activities (ballast is the graded stone sub-base used for drainage and support of the track)
To monitor Network Rail spend, contracts and full procurement pipeline so you can start planning your bid capacity, click here.
Bid Writing Support for Network Rail Frameworks?
Network Rail advertises their tender opportunities and frameworks using Bravo, which is a common portal for the public sector. You can monitor Network Rail tenders past and present by clicking this link.
You can monitor Network Rail tenders, other rail and broader public sector opportunities with our free software Tender Pipeline.
Once you are registered on the Bravo portal you will be able to bid for live Network Rail opportunities. They supply bidders with Network Rail Standards, which set out the expectations for suppliers and is important you fully understand these.
At Thornton & Lowe we help our clients bid for rail tenders by providing bidding advice and bid writing capacity. Most of our clients understand the challenges and how competitive Network Rail tenders can be so want a team of dedicated bid writers to be able to focus on developing the very best quality bid submission.
We have a rail tenders page, which includes bid writing tips for rail tenders that you can access here. You can also view our top 8 bid writing tips for any public sector tenders by clicking the link. By consistently applying this guidance when you are responding to tenders you will increase your quality scores, which will lead to more contract wins.
Bid Writing Success and Feedback:
“Thornton and Lowe provided an excellent service throughout the tendering period; from initial telephone enquiry to tender submission and beyond. The correct expertise of their staff combined with genuine people skills ensured they fitted
seamlessly into the existing company structure and added genuine value to the bid writing process.” Stobart Rail
“We’ve been invited to a post-tender interview on the back of the submission you played a large part in preparing. Thanks very much.” HW Martin
To view feedback from our existing clients, click here.
Our case studies can be found here, which detail what we have helped our clients achieve.
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