The contract includes all small plant for the railway powered by external means – such as rail drills, torque wrenches, chainsaws and handheld tamping machines – and any related consumables, from oil to repairs and spare parts.
It runs for an initial period of six years from 1st April 2020 to 31st March 2026, with options to extend to March 2028.
Vp, formerly Vibroplant, is the parent company of Torrent Trackside and Brandon Hire Station, which were among previous suppliers of small plant to Network Rail.
There are actually 13 separate agreements– one for each of Network Rail’s routes.
As part of the deal, Vp will also maintain and repair of 28,000 items of Network Rail-owned small plant as well as supply other small plant on a hire basis.
Network Rail has calculated that it will save £2.5m a year on the deal.
Turning to Vp means that Network Rail will have access to newer types of tools and such technology as battery power and Bluetooth tracking.
Garry Pyne, lead sourcing manager, Network Rail, said: “The plant now available for hire is innovative and modern, more reliable and cheaper to maintain. It is better for the environment and its lower vibration levels mean it is safer for our employees.”
He added: “The battery-operated vegetation clearance kit is much quieter, which is better for people living by the railway.
“We are also rolling out Bluetooth tracking on desirable items, so they are less likely to be lost or stolen. There’s a real opportunity and incentive to switch to hiring new small plant and start to phase out our older, owned plant.”