Navigating Project Upheaval

What Should UK Rail Contractors Do Next?

Construction | Forensic & Litigation Consulting

June 4, 2020

Yellow train

The UK rail industry has been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic with large projects such as High Speed 2 and Crossrail suspended and disrupted for the foreseeable future. Managing risk, recovering costs and transparent communications are critical for keeping projects on track and to safeguarding contractors’ interests – but what happens next?

Since 2015, the UK government has spent over £16 billion a year on transport projects1 and £4.2bn is in the pipeline. Delays to these works have significant time and cost implications that result in extension of time and cost claims. The disruption and loss of productivity caused by COVID-19 have exacerbated the circumstances for the UK rail industry who are already dealing with pre-existing delays, putting contract and claims management under the spotlight. To avoid loss, preparation is key to keeping on top of the crisis.

Step 1: Getting Your Ducks in a Row

The government’s COVID-19 letter to the construction industry isn’t crystal clear on what works can and can’t continue. This has created a very mixed picture for the railway sector, meaning claims management will likely be a major challenge in the months ahead.

Reaching an agreement between parties should be done as soon as possible and expectations managed upfront; productivity will be much lower than usual, meaning delays and associated cost implications are likely to occur. Time is cost – so continue with caution and mitigate wherever possible.

Ensuring Safe Suspension – Protecting the Site

Readying the site for closure is a crucial piece of the puzzle – a failure to do so can have a significant impact on personal and public safety, as well as project continuity and insurance. Without corrective action, unfinished works may deteriorate and collapse, adding further delays and costs into the mix as these will need to be redone after the suspension.

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