Thursday 14 Apr 2011


Region & Route:
| North West & Central

Network Rail chief executive David Higgins joined civic leaders in Milton Keynes this week for a topping out ceremony at the company’s new National Centre, which will be home to around 3,000 people when it opens in 2012, bringing new jobs to the city.

The milestone means work on the main structure of the 400,000 sq ft, four-storey building is now complete, only nine months after construction started. The building – two separate wings to be connected by a glass-roofed central ‘street’ – will be weatherproof by the summer, when work will start on the internal fit-out.

David Higgins said: "This is my first visit to Milton Keynes since joining Network Rail a few months ago, and I have to say I’m very impressed and excited by what I’ve seen today. I’m confident the new National Centre will be a place which inspires our people and I know it will be a fabulous place to work.

"Bringing so many of our people together in Milton Keynes makes sense, not just in terms of efficiency savings but also because of the improved service we will be able to offer train operators and their passengers. The National Centre is at the heart of our plans to improve the way we work so we can continue to deliver a world-class railway."

Debbie Brock, Mayor of Milton Keynes, said: "Today is an important step for Network Rail and yet another example of Milton Keynes delivering the right mix of skills, location and ‘can do’ attitude to attract business and create jobs. The National Centre is becoming a familiar part of the landscape, and its green credentials are a perfect fit for our aspirations as a showcase low-carbon city.

"Milton Keynes Council has been working with Network Rail and partners to facilitate the move and to help place local people in jobs immediately and in the future. We’re looking forward to welcoming other Network Rail employees to Milton Keynes and showing them it’s a great place to live and work."

Tim Roxburgh of the Homes and Communities Agency said: "We are pleased to see this cutting edge, sustainable development progress. The decision by Network Rail to choose Milton Keynes, bringing with it 3,000 jobs to the area, is a major success for the city that will enhance its economic growth and prosperity."

Chris Edwards, construction manager for BAM, said: "BAM's construction of the National Centre has is in itself created over a thousand new jobs, predominantly local, as well as millions of pounds of local investment. Our policy of recruiting and placing orders in the areas where we deliver our sustainable projects is part of our culture of giving something back to the communities where we build. We're very proud that the National Centre is such a good example of a productive local partnership."

The National Centre is expected to save Network Rail millions of pounds a year as the amount of office space it rents across the country will be greatly reduced. Bringing together national functions in one place will also improve teamwork and planning and support Network Rail’s newly devolved route teams based in places like Manchester, Swindon, Derby, York and London.

Teams will start moving into the National Centre in phases from June 2012, with the moves complete by September 2012. In the meantime, Network Rail’s existing offices at MK Central will continue to grow, with around 900 people based there by the end of this year. More than 230 people have been recruited from the local area since the MK Central office opened in September 2009.

Network Rail is working with the Engineering Development Trust on a mentoring programme in four schools in Milton Keynes. The programme aims to convince more young people to choose engineering-related subjects like maths and science and take them forward for further education. The more young people who stick with these subjects through secondary school and on to college and university, the better the local talent pool will be for Network Rail to recruit from in future.

David Higgins continued: “One of the most important reasons why we chose Milton Keynes was the availability of a workforce with diverse skills. We’ve been very pleased with the standard of people recruited so far – though certainly not surprised. Network Rail is a fantastic place to work and I look forward to welcoming more new faces from Milton Keynes and the surrounding area in the coming weeks, months and years.”

Notes to editors

July 2010 – Building work started (three weeks ahead of schedule)
April 2011 – Cladding of building commences
May 2011 – Building 1 glazing complete
August 2011 – Building watertight
September 2011 – Green roof planting
January 2012 – First block handed over for fit-out
June 2012 – Start to migrate people over

The National Centre is being constructed with sustainability in mind and the development has been awarded a BREEAM Excellent design stage rating, underlining the building’s environmental credentials.

The building will take advantage of a range of measures designed to regulate temperature and reduce energy use, including optimising the building’s orientation and facade, narrow floor plans, high overhanging soffits to provide shade and natural ventilation which are all complemented by very high efficiency, low carbon systems.

Other eco-friendly features include extensive ‘living roofs’ which will encourage diverse habitats for flora and fauna in the centre of the city and a rainwater harvesting system which will be used to flush toilets and irrigate landscaping.

Network Rail salvaged a range of materials from the National Hockey Stadium which used to occupy the site ready to be recycled and as much material as possible is being locally sourced to help limit the number of lorries and further reduce the development’s carbon footprint.

New jobs for the local economy
At the new centre, there will be a high percentage of skilled jobs in sectors such as project management, finance, procurement and property. The centre will house 3,000 people – that’s 3,000 new jobs for the local economy.

Drop-in days
Between January and March 2011 Network Rail held a series of drop-in days at its offices around the country including Glasgow, Birmingham, York, Swindon, Manchester, Derby and London. More than 1,500 people took the opportunity to find out about the local area, the new building and to speak to colleagues who have already made the move to MK.

Tours of the area
Between May and October, Invest MK will be offering tours for Network Rail people moving to Milton Keynes. The tours have already proved successful with people who have moved to the MK Central office.

MK task groups
Groups have been formed on key topics which explore practical ways to help the new influx of people integrate smoothly into the community. The groups involve a mix of organisations including MK Council and cover four key areas: schools and education, communications, living in MK and recruitment.

Contact information

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We own, operate and develop Britain's railway infrastructure; that's 20,000 miles of track, 30,000 bridges, tunnels and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations. We run 20 of the UK's largest stations while all the others, over 2,500, are run by the country's train operating companies.

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