Network Rail asks firms for innovative solutions

Rail infrastructure company Network Rail is set to review its panel of external law firms for the first time in three years.

Rail infrastructure company Network Rail is set to review its panel of external law firms for the first time in three years.

The review of the company’s 20 external firms comes after Network Rail agreed £35bn of funding over the next five years.

Group company secretary Hazel Walker is currently asking firms to tender for a place on the roster, and is expecting them to come up with new ways of working with the operator.

Walker said: “We’re constantly looking at the cost-efficient use of our external firms. In light of the targets set for Network Rail, now’s a good time to reassess our requirements for external support. We’ll be looking to our external panel to help us meet these targets, especially through the use of innovative service solutions put forward by the tendering firms. We’ve got some ideas but we’re not sharing those because we want to see what the firms come up with.”

Earlier this month the Office of Rail Regulation agreed the company’s funding until March 2014 under the CP4 Delivery Plan, money from which will go towards some of the largest projects in Europe, including the £5.5bn Thameslink programme, £2.2bn Crossrail and the £600m redevelopment of Birmingham New Street.

The panel, which is understood to include Addleshaw Goddard, Bircham Dyson Bell, Clifford Chance, Linklaters, Lovells, Simmons & Simmons and Thomas Eggar, as well as a number of smaller regional firms, was last asked to retender in 2005-06.

The review will be completed by September 2009.