Comments come as reports suggest troubled infrastructure client could be ‘broken-up’ over poor performance

Nick Roberts

The construction industry should help troubled infrastructure client Network Rail despite its problems, Atkins’ UK boss Nick Roberts has told Building.

In its half-year results to September, published last week, Atkins said delays and cancellations to Network Rail’s signalling programme – part of its highly-delayed and over-budget Control Period 5 (CP5) overall spending programme – had resulted in “resource reductions” that had negatively impacted on its transport division.

Speaking to Building, Roberts (pictured) said: “Network Rail is an important client for us. Clearly they’ve got real challenges in CP5 and CP6, but it’s for the industry to help them work through the challenges ahead. It’s also for us to be a part of solving that problem.”

Roberts’ comments come as a report in the Sunday Times suggests the government wants to “break up” Network Rail - potentially selling routes to investors such as pension funds - after becoming frustrated with repeated cost overruns at the client.

Transport secretary Chris Grayling is preparing to deliver a speech on railway reform before Christmas, sources told the paper.

In its half-year results, Atkins’ UK and Europe division posted a 32% jump in operating profit to £39.4m, despite a 2% dip in revenue to £451.2m.

The division’s staff headcount also fell 6% to 9,274, down from 9,865.