TXM Rail has earned the respect of the railway industry with its prioritisation of quality and strive for innovation, which has led to a spectacular growth since the company’s establishment in 2014
The first four years of TXM Rail’s history has hardly given the contractor the opportunity to slow down. Formed as a separate division within TXM Plant, both part of the wider TXM Group at the time, TXM Rail has gone onto a mass a series of prestigious contracts and catapulted itself to an annual turnover of circa £20 million. Years of industry experience have honed the skills of TXM Rail’s workforce, whose expertise spans infrastructure construction works, maintenance and upgrade works, project management, and engineering services.
“It is fair to say that we practically had to start from scratch. We had the backing and support from TXM Plant, but it was up to us to build the business from there,” recalls TXM Rail’s Managing Director, Mark Wood. In its formative months, the company obtained a provisional principal contractor licence from Network Rail, and subsequently began entering as many tender lists as possible, in search for business. “We were confident in our abilities as a team and we looked into non-Network Rail contracts, which we knew we would be suited for. Shortly after, we were selected by Nexus to deliver our services for a small project at Jesmond. At the same time, we were negotiating with Eurostar and won a maintenance contract. As a result of the strong start we had, we reached a turnover of about £2 million, which was a good platform for us to build upon,” Mark notes.
What turned out to be the major breakthrough for TXM Rail, however, was its successful tender for the Nexus’ Asset Renewal Plan. The contractor was awarded a four-year framework to renew large sections of the Newcastle Metro in an ongoing project. Late in 2017, TXM Rail secured its latest contract for another renewal programme, this time on the Isle of Man, which will see the company complete the three-year scheme that involves the upgrade and replacement of the existing infrastructure on the Steam and Manx Electric Railways.
A textbook example of the contractor’s exceptional quality and resourcefulness, can be drawn from its involvement in the Pudding Mill Lane project that it delivered for Costain. “Pudding Mill Lane is the connection where Crossrail meets Network Rail at Stratford. Following the fantastic delivery of our works, the client asked if we could also take a look at the slab track works. What started as a relatively small project grew significantly in value along with TXM’s reputation. This is a clear demonstration of the quality of our engineers and the real value we add, that gave us the opportunity to grow the business substantially in the last four years,” Mark states proudly.
To him, the company’s innovative mentality is another all-important factor that has defined TXM Rail’s remarkable growth. “Some clients’ approach shuts down the opportunities for any innovations in machinery or in how work can be delivered. I am always baffled when I hear that someone has always been doing something in a certain way – it leads to a situation where nobody is learning. We encourage our team to go to clients and explain how we can do things differently, and, more importantly, do them in a way that will bring value to them. “Nexus is a classic example of why this ‘one size fits all’ mentality will not take you far. As it is essentially a standalone network with limited connection to the main line, we had to think outside the box, because its wire height is about a metre lower than Network Rail’s. We looked into new machines that work on a much lower height, but at the same time preserve the capacity you get on the main line. I believe this kind of thinking makes us different to others,” Mark explains.
“I am led to believe the next control period, CP6, is going to be more quality-driven, and if the industry heads in this direction, it will really play to our strengths,” he continues. “We want to be as cost-effective as possible, and what really helps us achieve this is when clients come to the table early. This gives us time to find the most suitable option at the right price. To give you an example, for the Newcastle Metro project we bought ballast from Scandinavia, as we had time to research which countries were producing ballast at the right price. Early contractual involvement is music to our ears – we can offer clients alternative options to choose from, which doesn’t mean it will cost more, they just get better value for money. This is linked to innovation too – it means we can test and prove new technology, and then bring it to the market in a bigger way.”
‘Quality over quantity’ is the key message Mark sends. “TXM Rail has established a healthy portfolio of 20 clients, which we serve in various disciplines, and our next goal is to keep the growth under control. We would much rather stay at the same size, but be consistent in our delivery, than double the team and have quality potentially deteriorate. It is all about maintaining a steady growth,” he concludes.