5 key takeaways from the Network Rail National Supplier Conference

Collaboration, contracts, opportunities for the supply chain and SMEs, health and safety, data, digital, sustainability, and innovation were the big key themes at Network Rail’s National Supplier Conference.


The RBD Community team attended the online event on Thursday 11 May themed around ‘Control Period 7: Delivering Effectively’.


If you missed it, here are our 5 key takeaways for everyone doing business or seeking to do business in the industry.


1. Promoting the right safety behaviours and culture

Safety culture was a key opening theme, with a strong drive towards Network Rail working with supply chain and partners who can help it to promote the right safety behaviours and culture across the network.  


2. Building stronger supply chain partnerships

Network Rail reaffirmed its commitment to building much stronger partnerships with the rail supply chain and treating the supply chain as true partners on CP7, as opposed to the more traditional buyer/supply relationships of the past.


Andrew Haines told the conference that it wants to be able to use more regional supply chains. Network Rail’s Regional SME Champions will be working with local businesses to unearth regional solutions to regional challenges.


3. Knowledge sharing and learning lessons

Transforming productivity and performance across the industry is crucial. And to do so requires better knowledge sharing and lesson learning.


Mo Momodu discussed how CP7 provides a great opportunity for the rail industry to learn together and to embed cross industry learning and knowledge sharing into processes.


As part of its drive to embed a learning culture across Network Rail and the whole industry Network Rail has recently launched a Learning from Lessons Library. It is an online repository of best practice and lessons learned from projects and major programmes and rail suppliers and partners can access it.


Suppliers can also nominate a person from their organisation to contribute to the library by emailing LearningfromLessons@networkrail.com


5. Opportunities for SMEs

A big topic of discussion in the conference chat and panel discussion centred around SMEs saying they van find it challenging to access new contract opportunities, and any that they can are made more expensive through working with Tier 1s and not directly with Network Rail.


The consensus was that, by creating more opportunities for SMEs and making it easier for them to access opportunities, it will drive more innovation and efficiencies in the industry. There is more work to be done to help SMEs access new opportunities.


At RBD Community we actively help our members to find new bid, tender and funding opportunities in the industry.


Our member portal One Place has all of the latest bids and tender opportunities and funding and grants and is updated weekly. Members also receive regular newsletter and social media alerts about new opportunities. And, if there is something members want that they can’t find, they can ask our team who make it their mission to find it for them. To find out more about joining the RBD Community contact Louise@railbusinessdaily.com


The conference delegates heard that SMEs can play crucial role in helping Network Rail and the wider industry on a successful sustainability journey to net zero, and in all areas of innovation. It is working on ways to better engage with SMEs to help meet future challenges and explore ways to improve performance. As well as making it easier to access work winning opportunities. SME spend has increased to 35% in the past year – progress is being made and more is planned.


When asked for the best way to get involved in new work, Network Rail recommends SMEs and specialists in the supply chain register at its end-to-end procurement system BravoNR and the Railway Industry Supplier Qualification Scheme RISQS. And to work with Tier 1 organisations to get a foot in the door.


5. Use of data to enhance value

A panel discussion identified a key supply chain opportunity around provision of data services to the rail industry. Recognising that if the rail sector can share its current challenges with the supply chain, particularly with SMEs specialising in data services, and ask for data solutions that help address specific industry challenges.


For example, around health and safety, passenger journeys, risk management, sustainability, and better performance. The panel heard that solid data distinguishes fact from myth. There s a lot of myth in rail so data will provide a platform of evidence from which sound business decisions can be made.

5 key takeaways from the Network Rail National Supplier Conference
Talk to us today