Company spotlight: Global Rail Construction

Written for the rail engineer

With the privatisation of the railway industry, a number of large civil engineering firms moved into rail as a natural expansion of their business. With them came a host of smaller sub-contractors, some already established and some newly created.

Over the years, there have been several shake-ups in the sector, with contractors either merging or going out of business, until we have reached the somewhat stable situation that we have today.

So it is a good to look at one of those smaller companies, a privately-owned operation that has weathered the storms and reached its tenth anniversary.

The beginning

Global Rail Construction was set up in August 2001 by Marco Lombardelli and Ivan Holloway. Marco has been involved with the railway industry for over twenty years and is a Member of the Institute of Railway Signalling Engineers.

He worked for GEC Alstom for 14 years in various application engineering, design, project engineering and testing and commissioning roles. He joined Finchpalm Limited in July 1997 to implement and develop its signalling division.

Ivan Holloway has worked in the railway industry for over fifteen years. Following the management of a number of signalling installation projects, he is now an IRSE Licensed Signalling Installation Manager and holds qualifications and experience in the disciplines of civil engineering, construction and health & safety.

He is currently responsible for directing and developing the business of Global Rail Services Limited in Ireland.

With their combined backgrounds, it is not surprising that Global Rail Construction started out on signalling projects.

Within two months of being founded, the company was working for Interserve Rail on signalling installation works on the Dorset Coast Re-Signalling Project, and were undertaking cable route surveys and installation on behalf of McNicholas Rail on the FTN Project.

Success in Ireland

However, even now the company was diversifying, both in terms of work and geographically. Ivan’s connections in Ireland led to a contract to provide retaining walls and hard standing, as well as cable renewals, for a section of the DART (Dublin) route between Pierce Street Station and Shank Hill.

This got Global Rail Construction into the Irish market, and also into doing some more traditional civil engineering works.

In the UK, Westinghouse, Amey Rail and Fitzpatrick were added to the client base, and in 2004 the first direct business with Network Rail came along with a contract to undertake final gauging and acceptance testing after work on points machines and rail grinding and replacement between Paddington, Oxford and Reading.

Large projects continued to come out of Ireland including platform resurfacing and refurbishment at Heuston and Lansdowne Road, telecoms masts at various sites, a new station car park at Arklow, and installing 57km of cables and cable troughs for the DASH project which increased rail capacity in the Dublin area by 30%. Global Rail Construction was delivering a wide range of projects.

More growth

As time went on, the contracts became larger, and so did the company. Now with around 200 full-time employees split between offices in Hatfield, Ipswich and Dublin, and an exemplary safety and delivery record, Global Rail Construction are currently involved with some of today’s major rail projects on both Network Rail and London Underground.

To improve control and deployment of its directly employed workforce, the business developed its Labour Supply Division to better utilise the various skill sets of staff, most of whom hold dual competencies for Network Rail and LUL.

Global Rail Construction was now able to provide turnkey packages of works including design and build, installing and commissioning services. For example, the company was tasked with the design, implementation, testing and commissioning of 44 track circuits associated with the resignalling of Thameslink.

Existing AC track circuits were replaced with double-rail TI21 (EBI 200) equipment which use audio-frequency tuned circuits. In addition 15 location cases were designed, manufactured, installed, tested and commissioned to an extremely tight program.

Coventry and Moorthorpe

In May 2007, the company was appointed sub-contractor to Westinghouse Rail Systems Limited (now Invensys Rail) for the signalling installation and civil design and build packages for the Coventry Area Re-Signalling Project.

The signalling element included delivery and installation of all four-foot equipment as well as the fit-out and installation of the control centre.

On the civils side, 33km of cable route was installed together with associated location and signal bases. The company also built various signal gantries and demolished two signal boxes.

Following on from that project came the design and build contract for the Moorthorpe Re-Signalling Project, also from Invensys Rail.

Works included the design and installation of 33 Signal bases, REB and PSP bases, 25 location areas, drivers’ walkways, platform stagings and retaining walls. Another two signal boxes were also demolished.


Global Rail Construction has also undertaken several projects for May Gurney Rail including the complete refurbishment of station platforms at Alexandra Palace, Stamford and Wellingborough. These works included the installation of block paving, tactile strip and platform edge coping as well as ducting and drainage.

During this period, Mansell awarded Global Rail Construction the sub-contract to complete the platform finishing and block/brick works on four low-level platforms at the new station at Dalston on the East London Line. The construction of new staff accommodation and service areas was also included.

Successful alliances

As a result of hard work and commitment, Global Rail Construction has established long-lasting and successful alliances with some of the major organisations within the industry. The company now has a record of successfully completing projects for Irish Rail, Network Rail and London Underground.

It provides the flexibility of satisfying its clients’ requirements through either ‘labour only’ or sub-contract packages of work and has established a reputation for delivering to programme and budget while prioritising quality and safety.

The company has recently been awarded OHSAS 18001 for its Occupational Heath and Safety Management System (SMS) to compliment previous accreditations for ISO 9001 and 14001.

So congratulations to Global Rail Construction, and to ten years serving the UK and Irish rail Networks.

As Marco Lombardelli states, the company “mixes traditional industry skills with innovation, within a flexible management style, to deliver safely the client’s needs to the highest quality.”


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