UK-based Network Rail has roped in five IT vendors, including TCS, Cognizant and Accenture to design, build and manage its IT infrastructure in a deal estimated at 350 million pounds.

“With more than 270 individual IT suppliers, Network Rail manages a variety of systems of varying complexity, including some that were designed as far back as the 1970s. Network Rail has signed framework agreements with five major IT suppliers as it begins to simplify its computing relationships,” Network Rail said in a statement.

The new “zero—sum” IT solutions and system integrator framework agreements with Accenture, BAE Systems Detica, Cognizant, CSC and Tata Consultancy Services, it added.

Network Rail is the owner (not for dividend) and operator of Britain’s railway infrastructure, which includes tracks, signals, tunnels, bridges, level crossings and stations.

The agreements are designed to allow suppliers to take more ownership of designing, building and implementing IT solutions to support Network Rail, it said.

Though financial details of the deal were not disclosed, sources said the deal size is worth over GBP 350 million.

When contacted, Network Rail in an emailed response said, “This is no commitment, zero-sum framework agreement. There is potential for a certain level of money to change hands, but equally, the companies concerned know they may not get that work.”

“We have a mixture of outsourced and in-house IT suppliers. The previous systems integration framework, which this replaces, had 16 suppliers. What this (deal) does is share the delivery risk more equally between Network Rail and our suppliers,” it added.

The deal assumes significance as demand for IT services in the European region is almost flat amid economic uncertainties. The region accounts for about 20-30 per cent of the revenues of the Indian IT sector.

“By creating this framework, we will be able to scale more flexibly our resources to meet demand, while retaining our vital assurance role,” Network Rail Chief Information Officer Susan Cooklin said.

In this way, Network Rail can improve its efficiency while continuing to allow 24,000 trains a day across the rail network, Cooklin added.

TCS, in a separate statement, said it has bagged the four-year deal under which it will help Network Rail identify, define, design, build and integrate next generation IT solutions for its network.

Network Rail anticipates investing in more than 500 initiatives, driving greater business value from technology during the four years of the SI Framework partnership.

The scope of the partnership ranges from infrastructure to enterprise IT functions.

Cognizant said it will play an integral role in management of the entire supply chain, collaborating within Network Rail’s internal organization to ensure knowledge sharing, smooth transition and innovation.

The areas covered by the agreement include management of business, stakeholder relationship, logistics, property, business information, service and service operations and infrastructure lifecycle.

This will also include business administration, corporate compliance and citizenship as well as access planning.

“Technology will play an increasingly a vital role in improving a rail network that every year provides 1.3 billion journeys and carries 100 million tonnes of freight. We are pleased to have been selected by Network Rail to help develop their technology to support a range of business improvement programs,” David Wilkinson, an executive in Accenture’s UK and Ireland Transportation Practice, said.

More In: Industry | Business