Network Rail directors were in Milton Keynes today to see work progressing on the company’s new National Centre, which will be home to around 3,000 employees when it opens in 2012.
The group, including chief executive Iain Coucher, were joined on a tour of the site by more than seventy senior Network Rail executives from around the country, many of whom who will be based in the new building.
Iain Coucher, chief executive, said: “The National Centre marks the start of an exciting new chapter for Network Rail. Once complete it will, for the first time, unite many of our national teams and functions under one roof, helping us to work more effectively together in meeting the challenges of delivering a better, more efficient railway for passengers and freight.”
The National Centre is expected to save Network Rail millions of pounds as the amount of office space it rents at a number of locations across the country will be greatly reduced. Bringing together national functions in one place will also improve teamwork and planning and help support Network Rail’s route and area teams based in places like Manchester, Swindon, York and London.
The 400,000 sq ft building is being constructed on the site of the former National Hockey Stadium, revitalising an underused corner of Central Milton Keynes and bringing valuable new jobs to the local economy. Network Rail already has several hundred staff at its offices close to the station, many of whom have been recruited from the local area.
Dyan Crowther, director of operational services and based in Milton Keynes, said: “Bringing our people together in Milton Keynes makes sense, not just in terms of efficiency savings but also in terms of the improved service we will be able to offer train operators and their passengers. The National Centre is at the heart of our plans to improve the way we work so we can continue to deliver a world-class railway.”
Graham Cash, chief executive of BAM Construction, said: “BAM is delighted to mark the first stage of progress on site of this important project. We are determined to deliver the highest quality facilities to Network Rail and particularly for the 3,000 people who will work in this stunning building when it is completed in 2012.”
Cllr Jenni Ferrans, cabinet member for economic development at Milton Keynes Council, said: "I was delighted to meet Network Rail executives today on this project, which has been a pioneering one from the start. The building is a really exciting new design and was used to trial a new way of working with councillors and the council's planning team to get the best possible design.
“The economic development team have used the project to create a new website to help incoming people settle well in Milton Keynes, and now we are working closely with Network Rail to give MK residents the best possible chance when they apply for the new jobs to be advertised here. My thanks to Network Rail for working with us so closely, for what I hope will be a really successful project for all of us, that will, literally, put MK back in the centre of the rail network!"
Tim Roxburgh, director of Milton Keynes Partnership, said: “The National Centre is hugely important to Milton Keynes. The building itself will be a showcase for environmental sustainability and the thousands of jobs created provides a welcome boost to the economy, strengthening investors' confidence in the city.”
The National Centre is being constructed with sustainability in mind and the development has been awarded a BREEAM Excellent design stage rating, underlining the building’s environmental credentials.
The building will take advantage of a range of measures designed to regulate temperature and reduce energy use, including optimising the building’s orientation and facade, narrow floor plans, high overhanging soffits to provide shade and natural ventilation which are all complemented by very high efficiency, low carbon systems.
Other eco-friendly features include extensive ‘living roofs’ which will encourage diverse habitats for flora and fauna in the centre of the city and a rainwater harvesting system which will be used to flush toilets and irrigate landscaping.
A number of suggestions put forward by local residents during public consultation events in 2009 were also incorporated into the design, including recharging points for electric vehicles and an allotment on site for fruit and vegetables.
Network Rail has salvaged a range of materials from the National Hockey Stadium which used to occupy the site ready to be recycled and will source as much material as locally as possible to help limit the number of lorries and further reduce the development’s carbon footprint.
Mr Coucher continued: “As one of the most sustainable methods of travel, rail has a big role to play in the low carbon economy of the future and our plans for the National Centre demonstrate our commitment to reduce our environmental impact at every turn. We recognise the importance of urban planning to the history of Milton Keynes and the way the city has been designed. Our building will be one of which both the city and Network Rail can be proud.”