International focus on Norwegian rail

Several large international companies are positioning themselves to win major contracts in Norway. The Follo Line Project has aroused their interest.

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The Follo line close to Oslo S.

When the prequalification for the Follo Line Project entered the market, it attracted attention far beyond the national borders. Many large international companies were interested and  initiated collaboration with Norwegian contractors to win the major contracts.

In 2013, the Follo Line took a big step towards start of construction. The project has invested significant work in a new contract strategy in which contractors are given more responsibility and more freedom than before on how to solve the tasks. All in all the Follo Line Project has five EPC contracts, including Signal system. (EPC being an acronym for Engineering, Procurement and Construction.)

A pioneer

Procurement with such large contracts is pioneer activity for the Norwegian National Rail Administration. In the contracts the Rail Administration defines the requirements. The contractor will do the detail planning and the work within this framework and deliver a complete transport system by the date agreed.

-It has been demanding and work- intensive, but everyone has done their outmost and we are looking forward to get started, says Erik Smith, Project Director of the Follo Line Project.

The new railway is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2021. The first suppliers for the two tunnel contracts, TBM (drilling) and Drill & Blast (blasting) were pre-qualified in November last year. In March 2014, the pre-qualification process commenced for EPC Oslo Central station (Oslo S) and EPC Ski. The EPC contracts are scheduled to be signed from February to September 2015. 

Getting attention

Companies or joint ventures from around the world signed up to the initial competition for the tunnel contracts. The market strategy for the Follo Line Project, with few and large contracts, might already be considered a success.
- Most of these companies have high levels of expertise. In our market strategy our aim is to stimulate transfer of expertise and strengthen the position of Norwegian TBM technology. When we look at the constellation of pre-qualified companies it looks as if we will achieved this, says Mr. Smith. Several of the Norwegian contracting companies are collaborating with large international companies from countries like Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Turkey and Austria.

Huge investments

The Follo Line is the innermost part of the InterCity development south of Oslo.

-Some of the companies consider the Follo Line to be a strategic opportunity to establish their company in Norway and consider this project as an entry ticket for the rest of the InterCity development. The companies who take part successfully, will be in a good position to compete for other projects in Norway," says Jan Vormeland, Head of Procurement in the Follo Line Project.

Important cooperation

Norwegian legislation can be a challenge for international companies. In order to gain mutual understanding and avoid conflicts, the Follo Line Project invited the pre-qualified companies to a full-day seminar on laws and regulations.

-Don't be too creative. The Follo Line Project will be monitored by authorities, organizations and the media," underlined Torbjørn Amundsen, partner in KPMG consulting services at the seminar.

-There seemed to be some surprises when the pre-qualified companies were informed about requirements and Norwegian legislation, among these are important rules to ensure proper wage and working conditions, says Erik Smith.

The Follo Line Project:

Designed  for speed up to 250 km/h
Comprises a total of 64 km of new railway track
Will enable a 50 % reduction in journey time between Oslo and Ski (from 22 to 11 minutes)
Preparatory works initiated in 2013 and continued in 2014
To be complete in the end of 2021