The UK rail network includes 20,000 miles of track, 2,500 stations, and 40,000 bridges and tunnels.
The industry carries over 1.3 billion passengers each year and employs over 213,000 people from train drivers, to station staff, and those who maintain the track and signalling. London Underground also carries 5 million people every day, across 250 miles of track. Combined, the rail industry is worth an estimated £14 billion to the UK economy.
Network Rail, a UK Government company, is responsible for the operation and maintenance of most of the network. Transport for London is responsible for the overground and underground network in London. Both organisations contract out in turn most installation and maintenance work to specialist private sector companies.
Networks of this capacity need significant investment to maintain them effectively and to create an integrated infrastructure that can cater for current and anticipated future growth. Such investment offers companies that specialist in civil engineering and maintenance rail projects significant opportunities. Competition is tough, however, and so more and more organisations are using professional bid writers to enhance their tender and score to win.
Common questions our bid writers prepare in rail bids include:
- Project planning and programme management
- Technical experience and expertise
- Compliance with regulations
- Health, safety and well being
- Accreditations like Achilles RISQS, Personal Track Safety (PTS) and QUENSH (London Underground)
- Quality management
- IT systems
- Staff training supervision and management
- TUPE transfer
- Logistics planning
- Management of sub-contractors and supply chain
- Management of risks and issues
- Contingency Planning
- Stakeholder management and communications
- Sustainability, including environmental matters, and compliance with the Social Value Act
- Delivering value for money.
Health and safety of staff and the public are critically important and it is not surprising therefore that the rail networks operate in accordance with stringent regulations and procedures. Our writers have developed a detailed understanding of these regulations so the bids we produce demonstrate how our clients are credible suppliers in this market.
Our approach to Rail Bid Writing
We adopt a flexible approach to preparing these types of bids as each one is different and our clients have different requirements.
Typically, we produce and agree a bid plan at the start of the project with you that includes bid phases, key deliverables and milestones.
The bid plan is likely to include:
- Holding an initial workshop with those people in your company who will have an input into the bid so that we all understand the nature of the bid, your strategy, key milestones and deadlines.
- Identifying subject matter experts – those people in your company who hold the information we need to prepare the tender.
- Creating a storyboard for each question – that is an outline of the content, win themes and evidence – by interviewing the subject matter experts and holding workshops.
- Producing a first draft of the responses to each question for review by the subject matter experts to check for factual accuracy. These are sometimes called Amber Reviews.
- Identifying from the narrative opportunity to enhance the bid by providing diagrams, graphs and other forms of visual evidence.
- Refining the responses following feedback from the Amber Reviews ahead of presenting the draft bid to a wider team within your company who will be responsible for approving its content. These are sometimes called Red Reviews.
- Final polishing of the narrative ahead of a final sign-off by your management team and its submission to you, the client (Gold Reviews).
Our experience in Rail Bid Writing
The following provides an overview of the types of rail bids we have supported.
Civil engineering bids involve major construction programmes as well as the refurbishment and maintenance of stations, bridges and other structures
Civil Engineering Bid Writing
Civil engineering on the rail network includes the construction of new tunnels, stations and other structures, laying of track, and installation of signalling systems. Examples of recent projects are London’s CrossRail, an initiative to link Reading to the West of London with Shenfield in the East, allowing passengers to cross the city for the first time on a single train. HighSpeed 2 is another example and is creating a super-fast rail link between London and the North of England by 2026, reducing journey times significantly.
We have supported a number of large and complicated civil engineering bids for rail. They include the installation and maintenance of drainage systems, the redevelopment of major terminal stations like London’s Euston, and the refurbishment of bridges, stations, and other structures.
Planned Maintenance and Reactive Maintenance Bid Writing
The overground and underground networks require substantial maintenance programmes given the significant traffic that uses them every day. Parts of the network are ageing and are being upgraded as part of modernisation programmes. Works often have to take place at night and require significant planning given the need to minimise disruption to passengers.
We have prepared a large number of planned and reactive maintenance tenders, including for contact centres; track and signalling replacement; refurbishment of stations, bridges and other structures; installation and maintenance of drainage systems, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), and mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) plant. We have also written successful bids for the provision of specialist rail maintenance equipment and operatives.
Bids for maintenance contracts are often complex and require demonstration of experience, expertise and compliance with detailed regulations
Vegetation management minimises disruption caused by falling leaves, overgrown plants and invasive species
Vegetation and Pest control Bid Writing
Vegetation grows alongside much of the rail network. Not only does it create a more aesthetic network, but it also reduces noise. However, we are all familiar with the disruption ‘leaves on the line’ can bring and if left unchecked, overhanging and fallen trees can causes blockages. Specialist contractors therefore attend to the vegetation as part of a planned and reactive maintenance programmes. Their works include: tree surgery, weeding and the control of non-native invasive species that thrive alongside the railway, such as Japanese Knotweed.
At the same time, the network is susceptible to disruption caused by pests. With thousands of miles of cabling to maintain the signalling network, rats pose a significant risk, and flocks of pigeons nesting in stations have the potential to spread disease. Pest controllers are therefore employed to keep populations under control.
We have successfully prepared bids on behalf of clients to provide vegetation management and pest control, most recently on the London overground and underground networks for Transport for London. Tenders included requirements for 24/7 control centres, staff qualifications and training, the use of chemicals, and the disposal of waste in an environmentally friendly manner that contributed to Transport for London’s green initiatives.