The Network Rail Design Services Framework consists of four multi-discipline and 78 single-discipline frameworks. Robert Bird Group are a single discipline supplier on the Civils and Structural framework in the Wales and Western Regions since January 2020 and anticipate continuing to deliver design services under this framework up until 2025+.

The framework gives Network Rail access to a design support network, providing mutual benefits to the supply chain and Network Rail, thereby improving assurance, knowledge sharing, business and safety performance and enabling innovation.

In working with on a wide typology and age of assets, Robert Bird Group always start from the perspective of minimising interventions. We assiduously review the options available for each type of asset – from light maintenance and repair all the way through to major structural repairs and/or replacement – so that Network Rail have best-value options at their disposal.

RBG services provided focus on:

  • Site inspections, ground investigations and surveys of existing railway and highway structures;
  • Assessment of existing structural assets and including detailed knowledge of historical structure types and materials such as masonry, iron and early steel structures;
  • Remedial design of repairs and structural strengthening;
  • Design of new structures including bridges, retaining walls, culverts, tunnels, and ancillary structures;
  • Safety critical documents and approvals;
  • Liaison for third party approvals i.e. heritage or environmental;
  • Detailed knowledge of Network Rail codes, requirements and their approvals process
  • Specialist surveys including environmental reports and intrusive investigations;
  • Principal Designer Role through design and construction;
  • Forensic GAP analysis of proposed Crossrail Station Design Submission.
  • Asset Protection Project Engineer Secondments reviewing third Party submissions on HS2.
  • Production of standardised design manual for UK Masterseries OLE support structures.


Since the launch of the Overhead Line Equipment (OLE) UK Master Series (UKMS), the standard designs of support structures in this series have been specified on a variety of Network Rail projects. However, the use of these structures was based on design checks to validate their suitability and capacity on an individual project basis. NR is aiming to provide calculation verifications for this set of standard designs. RBG are appointed to undertake all the calculations and verifications associated with the different designs in the manual providing a comprehensive revised set of drawings and manuals.

OOC Design Services

RBG is providing services within the HS2 Western Region, with 3 No. Full time ASPRO Civils based Engineers to support the ASPRO Designated Project Engineer (DPE) in review of third-party submissions for the new HS2 Old Oak Common station project. The appointed Engineers perform the duties in line with the requirements of Network Rail Standard NR/L2/INI/02009/01, under the direction of a Network Rail member of staff in the role of DPE.

GAP Analysis of Stations Buildings

RBG were appointed to carry out a GAP analysis report for the proposed GRIP 5 designs of several stations under construction, after Network Rail identifying an exceptional number of design deficiencies. The key issues behind the defects were that parts of the GRIP 5 design were in-complete, found to be deficient to enable construction, or failed to integrate the different disciplines leading. The review covered Structures, Civil, Architecture, M&EE and BIM modelling with a specific focus on clash detection and risk management.

Robert Bird Group, in the Principal Designer role, provided design services within the framework in a series of projects ranging from assessments of existing structures to new construction. Some of the most remarkable are:

  • Honeywicke Retaining Wall

Robert Bird Group undertook the structural survey of a failing retaining wall at the foot of a steep embankment directly adjacent to main railway lines in Bristol. Following the survey we were able to develop a hybrid strengthen and repair design proposal including sprayed concrete and rock anchors to secure the existing retaining wall. The design had the benefit of minimal ground-works and construction time when compared to a traditional retaining wall replacement and it is expected that it will be built in standard engineering hours with minimal disruption to the operational railway.

  • Bishopsteignton Culvert

Bishopsteignton is an under-track culvert providing tidal drainage on the high risk coastal west coast main line. Previous condition assessments of the culvert had shown that the structure was in a state of disrepair and Robert Bird Group (RBG) were contracted to provide an off-line pipe jacked replacement. Due to the tidal location of the structure it was expected that a cofferdam would be required for construction. Upon review of the site geology, RBG concluded that coffer-damming would be extremely difficult and expensive to achieve. RBG proposed an alternative design solution that would encompass reuse of the existing culvert, significantly improving the sustainability and cost of the scheme for the Client. RBG then lead third party approvals for environmental and drainage consents.

  • Downside Rail

A section of retaining wall supporting the West Coast Main line had undergone progressive failure and Robert Bird Group were contracted to design repairs. During options analysis stage it became clear that the wall was continuing to fail and to protect against complete collapse Robert Bird Group devised a temporary propping scheme to ensure the main line was able to remain open. The subsequent permanent repair included replacement of the failing sections of wall with a modular ‘backwards’ cantilevered reinforced concrete wall. Construction sequencing and methodology were carefully considered in the design to allow construction of the wall with no disruption to the operational railway with only minimal monitoring.

  • Rainbow Hill Tunnel

Rainbow Hill Tunnel is a 180m brick lined tunnel that required repair. During the project Robert Bird Group were able to resolve a persistent issue facing tunnel repair projects, where design drawings are difficult to utilise on-site with defect locations scaled inappropriately or difficult to locate. Robert Bird Group proposed utilising an innovative point cloud with 360 HDR photography survey to reproduce a detailed model of the entire tunnel and elevations. This had the dual benefit of significantly reducing survey time and provided a resource for design. The tunnel model was ‘unwrapped’ for the Contract drawings and the digital model was provided to Network Rail and their Contractor for construction.

  • Windsor Viaduct

The structure is a 24-span arch masonry structure carrying a single bi-directional non-electrified line. The structure has a low overall BCMI score with several defects associated with open joints, displaced brickwork, spalling and extensive drummy areas. The project team chose to utilise a UAV drone with mounted camera to capture track positions and levels, significantly reducing trackside survey requirements and improving on-site health and safety. Project innovations included utilising RING masonry arch analysis software to determine if the viaduct could remain open to railway traffic during refurbishment, providing a significant cost saving to Network Rail at construction stage.

  • Durley Somerdale Masonary Arch Underbridges

As Network Rail strive towards net zero carbon emissions, Robert Bird Group were able to utilise advanced structural analysis methodologies to provide significant sustainability gains on this repair and strengthening project for a grade II listed station footbridge.

Previous project experience of historical metallic footbridges has shown that they are often ‘over-strengthened’ when traditional analysis is employed, resulting in significant additional embodied carbon from the additional steelwork required. Robert Bird Group produced a full 3D Finite Element Model to undertake non-linear assessment methodologies which enabled proof that the load carrying capacity of the footbridge was higher than previously thought, allowing for a more efficient targeted and sustainable repair design.

  • Stroud Footbridge

Durley Somerdale is a Grade II listed masonry arch underbridge designed by I.K. Brunel. Robert Bird Group undertook the design for repair of the historically significant bridge, including preparation of liaison approvals documentation for listed buildings consent.

Project Metrics

Project Value:
£640 million
Year Completed:
Building Metrics:
5+1+1+1 Design Services Framework for Civils and Structural Services for Network Rail Wales and Western Region.
Roads & Highways

Project Metrics

Network Rail
Robert Bird Group Services:
Surveying and Asset Inspection
Structural Engineering
Civil Engineering
Geotechnical Engineering