Balfour Beatty has been awarded a four-year contract worth more than £40m for the operation and maintenance of Network Rail’s fleet of track maintenance machines known as Stoneblowers.
The contract, which has already commenced, will employ approximately 140 at peak including four apprentices and graduates, and will deliver a minimum of 2,800 maintenance shifts per year across the UK network. There is also the option to extend the deal for an additional year.
Stoneblowers won their name by pneumatically injecting small stones under the sleepers filling the voids and stabilising the track.
The current fleet consists of 14 operational machines - 11 plain line machines allocated to specific geographical areas and three multi-purpose machines that operate across all areas.
Mark Bullock, managing director of Balfour Beatty’s rail business, said: 'The contract is an exciting one for us as it not only includes the operation and maintenance of the current fleet, but also the introduction of seven new multi-purpose machines.'
The seven new multi-purpose machines will be delivered during the term of the contract with the first one entering service in 2020.
Balfour Beatty will be responsible for providing the highly skilled crews required to operate the new machines with recruitment commencing early in 2019. It will also assist Network Rail with the commissioning of the new machines.