PULLING IT ALL TOGETHER
DAVID DISKIN wears many hats - as operations director at Carillion’s rail business, he’s currently responsible for delivering a number of electrification projects. Each has its own challenges...
Midland Main Line electrification
electrification contract, Diskin acts as the common denominator between the Carillion’s rail business and Carillion Powerlines (CPL) teams working on the project - the former on the enhancements and civils and the latter delivering the electrification. While the whole project will involve wiring all the way from St Pancras to Sheffield, the current focus is on the section from London-Corby, due for delivery in December 2019.
The project has had a difficult inception - it was paused in 2015, then ‘unpaused’ last summer. But fortunately, Carillion’s sheer size and capacity meant that it had the resources and experience to handle any setbacks.
Diskin is particularly proud of the way the business was able to transfer the available skills from MMLE to augment other projects across the business.
“We already had a significant number of people ready to do the electrification work back in 2015 and, when it was paused, it was a case of reallocating people across the business without any redundancies or loss of key staff. Retaining all that expertise was a real triumph.
“Many of those people were relocated to work on the North-West Electrification Programme [see separate panel]. The speed at which we un-paused and re-mobilised everyone, so we are in a strong position to start work in the summer, was also a big achievement. This now means we can start getting the delivery plan in place for completion for 2019 (the end of CP5).
“The size of our operations meant that we were able to mobilise between 120 and 130 people in a relatively short time, and we forecast 130 people by the end of the summer. That’s been a positive thing. And it’s strengthened the relationship that we have with the joint venture partners, in terms of bringing people from across the UK and from abroad.
“Carillion is a huge global construction business, which gives us access to a much larger pool of personnel, and their skills can be transferred from other disciplines.”
Adds Diskin: “We have people in power and distribution working for the National Grid, so we’ve brought people in from there. They’ve also spent time in other parts of the business. It is always good to develop those people further, and be able to redistribute them.”
It is vital on this project that the two separate streams of work for Carillion’s rail business and CPL are delivered in complete harmony, which is part of the reason why Diskin is the linchpin between the two.
“The scope of the two pieces of work completely complement each other. The enhancements works that we are doing align completely with the operational requirements of electrification and the rolling stock. Ultimately, the two scopes of works join together in terms of being a combined piece of infrastructure.”
North-West Electrification Programme
Diskin is also one of the people spearheading the Collaborative approach to delivery of phases 4 & 5 of the North-West Electrification Programme. This project is key to the Northern Powerhouse vision. This part of the programme involves £160 million of work and will need to be completed and ready for rolling stock - an extremely challenging task.
Says Diskin: The scheme has been in development for quite some time, with Carillion’s involvement around 18 months thus far. There have been a number of changes along the way which Carillion has had to adapt to, and adopt, in order to focus on our primary aims - namely delivering the design to a programme and to a fixed budget.
“We’re working closely with the client, Network Rail and all the other delivery partners in a new collaborative environment. To cement this unique partnership, we are all working in the same office to meet the same standards and goals.”
This is what makes the project stand out - the collaborative environment.
“We’ve established a close-knit team here with Network Rail that is, in many ways, the perfect example of a positive working environment.”
With people working together in this way, is there any danger of complacency?
Diskin is convinced that they have found the right balance on the NorthWest scheme: “There is a good level of tension and challenge there, but it is balanced with curiosity.
“And there is always someone on hand who can give you the right answers. We believe we have found the right formula for success. Our unique, innovative delivery model keeps the working environment vibrant and interesting and the experience gained here will enable us to lay the foundations to take the successful collaborative approach to other projects.”
Diskin is certainly a champion of breaking down the traditional barriers to working collaboratively, and wants to use the lessons learned to break them down elsewhere.
... but each of these projects has one big thing in common - the need for seamless collaboration between and within teams.
They are all challenging in terms of timescale and budget, and having everyone work towards the same goal with no logistical barriers is the only way to successfully complete the work. People such as Diskin, with experience of collaboration across multiple projects, mean the benefit of that experience is transferred to all future jobs.
Under the Midland Main Line electrification contract, David Diskin is the common denominator between the Carillion Rail and Carillion Powerlines teams working on the project. While the whole project will involve wiring all the way from St Pancras to Sheffield, the current focus is on the section from Kettering-Corby (pictured).