Home: April / May 2012 › A new chapter
A new chapter
20/04/2012 | Channel:
Infrastructure, Business Improvement
Backed by a new structure, Story Contracting Limited is continuing to offer market responsive civil engineering expertise
The rail enterprise of Story Contracting Limited began about a decade ago with the business taking on the role of a small contingent labour supplier providing track gangs to IMT contractors. As its experience grew so the company developed management teams and built up an on-track plant capability, which then allowed it to carry out minor project works, principally as a subcontractor to CFA contractors in London North Western (LNW) and London North Eastern (LNE).
“Our capabilities continued to grow and we developed beyond track works into a full range of rail related civil engineering,” continues Kevin Wharton, bid manager. “We started carrying out principal contract work where the content of a project was well suited to our core skills, and have continued to progress in this area, most recently becoming a framework contractor on the Building and Civils Delivery Partnership in the North.”
The Story Contracting name has been in effect since February of this year, when the company brought together its previously separate divisions of Story Construction Limited and Story Rail Limited. With the activities between the two aspects of the business increasingly overlapping in recent years, combining these in one structure will enable it to grow its capabilities and further improve the quality of delivery, whilst removing unnecessary costs to improve competitiveness.
Headquartered in Carlisle, Cumbria, with a further satellite office in York, today Story Contracting has an unrivalled capability to draw upon a comprehensive in-house rail, construction and civil engineering resource, including a 250 strong PTS qualified workforce, that enables delivery of the most demanding of projects. Facilities located in Carlisle include a plant department for its road rail fleet, all small plant, fully equipped vehicle and plant workshops to maintain all resources, a full equipped training suite, and extensive railway layout used to simulate actual site conditions for personnel and plant operator training.
With such an extensive civil engineering capability, Story Contracting can undertake a wide range of rail related tasks such as bridge reconstruction and refurbishment, steelwork repairs, blast cleaning and protective coatings, drainage, S&T route works, site infrastructure projects, station refurbishments, platform reconstruction and general building works. Elaborating on those areas where the business has a particular presence Kevin says: “Trackworks was the major part of the business during its early years. We now complete projects where track is the primary objective of the scheme, or a feature of a larger remit of work. This might be the removal and re-instatement of the permanent way for a bridge reconstruction project for example.
“Other than standard ballasted track we have a lot of experience of direct fastening systems, such as the Pandrol Vipa system that we installed throughout Liverpool’s Merseyloop underground system for Birse Rail, or on the deck replacement at Arnside Viaduct for May Gurney. We also carry out a lot of longitudinal timber replacements, most recently at Huttons Ambo viaduct for Network Rail.”
Given the make up of the UK railway infrastructure, Network Rail in particular is a key client for Story Contracting, accounting for a significant part of the company’s turnover. As such the business is careful to adapt its business model in line with ind developed its procurement strategy to increase the proportion of schemes delivered through ‘design and build’, Story Contracting enhanced its capability in this area. Since this time the company has carried out numerous design and build schemes including bridge reconstructions, infills, embankment stabilisations, Access for All schemes, and platform reconstructions. “We have a strong engineering management team and work with a range of third party designers. Design and build is well suited to the way that we like to work in terms of finding solutions to problems and coming up with innovative methods,” enthuses Kevin.
Another defining aspect of Story Contracting’s offering is the mobilisation of its in-house plant fleet. Outside of its own activities, the business is a core supplier of Road Rail vehicles to multiple Network Rail MDUs in the LNW and LNE regions under a multi-year national framework agreement, which commenced in April 2010. As Story Contracting continues to integrate with Network Rail maintenance teams it is also developing stabling locations for its plant resources throughout the regions, which further enhances the ability to achieve comprehensive geographical coverage.
The committed expenditure to the railway industry over the coming years helps provide confidence for operators such as Story Rail to invest and develop their businesses. However, with one client forming a large part of the industry there is always a risk that a major policy change could have a significant detrimental effect on business. With another major reorganisation underway at Network Rail at the moment, more than ever Story Contracting is recognising how crucial it is to remain responsive and adaptive to change.
“The rail industry is continually changing so one of the most important things we can do is remain vigilant to the needs of our clients and ensure we change to suit the business that’s out there,” confirms Kevin. “We see a key development in being able to provide a full service for our clients. As our customers’ rationalised management teams reach capacity they will increasingly rely upon their contractors to offer an all-encompassing service. We will continue being a hands-on organisation that delivers a significant proportion of our workload using our own resources. The quality and productivity that this brings us has been key to our success so far and is something we’re keen to maintain,” he concludes.