QS upsets framework applecart by winning consultancy work on Network Rail scheme

Network Rail has shocked the industry by appointing a firm that is not on its new consultants framework to the £3.6bn Thameslink project.

Cyril Sweett and Franklin + Andrews beat off competition from 91 other firms on the framework – despite the fact that Cyril Sweett was not included in list that was unveiled two weeks ago.

The controversial move was greeted with disbelief by other QSs which had expected that the recent announcement would have guaranteed members of the framework exclusive access to big projects such as the upgrade of the north-south London link.

An industry source said: “This is not great news for a framework that’s just kicked off. It’s disappointing because it was such a tough process to get on it.”

Simon Fricker, director of rail at Halcrow, which is on the framework, said: “We are realistic about the fact that clients have a range of choices on who to employ, but I wouldn’t be doing my job properly if we weren’t still considered for major projects.”

We are realistic about the fact that clients have a range of choices

Simon Fricker, Halcrow

Another source confirmed they were aware of the situation but hoped Network Rail would put the framework companies in a preferential position. “We want to win repeat business with Network Rail which is one of the top five clients in the industry. That’s why we joined the framework.”

A spokesperson for Network Rail said: “Consultants on the framework are not guaranteed work if the expertise is not there, but we will look at the framework first. It enables us to work more quickly on smaller-scale projects.”

The framework includes consultants such as Turner & Townsend, Gardiner & Theobald, Faithful + Gould and Gleeds.