Rail sector work now biggest part of Costain

Aaron Morby 10 years ago

Costain has boosted staff numbers to 450 working on rail sector work making it the biggest part of the contractor.

The firm said that in just three years turnover has rocketed from £40m to £250m, helped by Reading and London Bridge station contracts and a flurry of jobs on Crossrail.

The rise follows a breakthrough deal on the Thameslink project at Farringdon Station in London several years ago and the arrival of Gren Edwards, former chief executive of Volker Rail.

“All the contracts we’re working on at the moment continue for at least two to three years,” said Edwards.

“There’s £300m of sustainable work for the next two to three years, in addition to other types of projects.”

Part of the haul comes from Costain’s success on Crossrail where its signed 11 contacts – more than any other major company.














Several factors are behind the growth. One was the arrival in late 2010 of Gren Edwards as Rail Sector Director.

Gren was already a ‘name’ in the rail industry, having been chief executive of specialist contractor Volker Rail: “Network Rail knew me and I’ve delivered all sorts of work for them over the last 20 years.”

He arrived with the ambition of broadening Costain’s reputation in the sector from that of a major project deliverer to one that included specialist railway skills such as track electrification, signalling and specialised plant, to turn it into a multi-disciplinary organisation.

A second factor was a breakthrough contract to remodel London’s historic Farringdon Station, which serves both overground and London Underground trains and underwent a major expansion to ready it for expanded Thameslink and future Crossrail services.

“Farringdon was the first project and we gained the trust of Network Rail due to our fantastic work there,” said Ross MacKenzie, Customer Director, Rail. “Farringdon wasn’t the entire story, but the delivery there allowed us to win the Reading and London Bridge jobs.

“We’ve been able to come in and do things differently, bringing construction professionalism to the railway. We have major project experience; within Costain, we have 3,000 highly-qualified engineers and it doesn’t matter if they work in the water or highways sectors, they’re used to solving problems and being able to bring in experience from other areas.”

One major indicator of Costain’s success on the railways has been its winning of no fewer than 11 contracts with Crossrail – more than any other major company.

“That gives us a volume of work in our core business,” said Ross. “On top of that, we’re working on ‘breadth’, to move into other areas.”

Overall, however, the future of rail work is looking good:

Next on the horizon is the huge High Speed 2 rail route due to slice journey times between London, Birmingham and beyond.  If it gets the political green light, work is due to start around the end of this year.

Gren and the team continue to pursue work across the full spectrum of the railway for all our customers (Network Rail, LUL and soon HS2), while continuing to deliver Crossrail, which continues  until 2018.

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