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...

Rail (UK) - - Special Report -

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).

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