Client: Network Rail

Project overview

Network Rail sought private sector investment in its trackside fibre optic cable network in a deal that would enable performance, safety and connectivity benefits for passengers and save the taxpayer £1bn in supporting the government's objectives to improve connectivity across the UK. 

The initiative aims to create a safer, more modern, digitally connected rail network. The plan secured the funding necessary to upgrade telecoms infrastructure along the national rail network innovatively without relying on subsidies from the government or passengers. 

Network Rails cable assets comprise a national lineside network of over 16,000km of data cables, carrying information essential to running the railway, such as signalling for trains, trackside sensors, CCTV, and internet use for trains, railway depots and offices. 

  • Over 16,000km of data cables
  • Save the taxpayer £1bn
  • Trackside fibre optic cable network
  • Digitally connected rail network

BWB's role

We were appointed to assess the feasibility of re-use/adaptation of the national network assets by commercial telecom and broadband operators to enhance connectivity across the UK. 

We undertook a comprehensive review of scope variables as part of the study, including; 

Objectives Capacity Design Survey 
Constructability Access Programme Maintenance 
Cost Stakeholders Security Sustainability 
Asset Life Enhancement Interoperability Risk 

We provided a national report through collaboration and liaison with installers and main works contractors, which formed the technical parameters used in the national tender. 

The project so far

Network Rail has announced that it has selected a UK connectivity provider as the preferred bidder on an exclusive basis. BWB's feasibility assessment has provided the base asset register for the ongoing negotiations to agree on the investment for the design and build of the new fibre optic communications network trackside that will deliver high-capacity connectivity nationwide to support the UK's digital future.

Challenges and solutions

The primary challenge was retrofitting the existing warehouse infrastructure to meet the project's advanced technological and environmental standards. Our innovative solution involved the design of an independent internal structural steel frame, allowing for the integration and performance of high-tech modular units without compromising the structural integrity of the building. The result was a harmonious marriage of form and function, of critical infrastructure aligning with the aspirations, environmental operating parameters and the exacting needs of our Client. 

Collaboration excellence

Efficient collaboration was the cornerstone of our success, involving close coordination between all design team members, stakeholders, contractors, suppliers and third parties. This collaborative approach ensured the realisation of our client's vision, overcoming hurdles and delivering a transformative data centre that goes beyond the ordinary and exemplifies technological advancement and environmental stewardship.