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On the Rails

24 June 2008

From ground-breaking FM on the railways to the management of schools, housing and new police stations, John Laing Integrated Services is maintaining a regenerated built environment for public use across the country as Tim Greer explains to Jane Fenwick

FORMER MAYOR ON LONDON, Ken Livingston, may be history following his recent defeat in London’s local elections, but among the projects he championed that will provide a legacy for London commuters long after he has gone is the ambitious London Overground rail improvement project.

Transport for London (TfL) assumed responsibility for the London Overground train services on the North London Line from the Department for Transport in November last year. Operating under a TfL concession, London Overground Services will also run the East London Railway when it opens in 2010 following £1bn extension of the existing route.

Mayor Livingston’s aim was to provide a step change in travelling experience for commuters on these formerly neglected lines, create a new rail artery around the city serving 20 London Boroughs and provide a vital rail link for the London 2012 Olympics. The sole concession was awarded to a joint venture London Overground Rail Operations Limited (LOROL) comprising John Laing Rail and MTR, named MTR Rail. John Laing was franchise holder of the successful Chiltern railways that reported the ‘best overall customer satisfaction scores’ of any London commuter network. MTR – the MTR corporation of Hong Kong, manages over 3,000 commuter services a day carrying 2.4million passengers.

In April it was announced that Laing Rail was to be sold to the German rail operator, Deutsche Bahn, in its first major business investment outside Germany. The John Laing 50 per cent holding in LOROL became part of its regional transport division, DB Regio.

Prior to the acquisition, the contract for facilities management of the stations and overground facilities had already been awarded to John Laing Integrated Services (JLIS), and since November last year, JLIS staff have been contributing to the turnaround in the passenger experience on the railway. JLIS is delivering most of the planned and reactive maintenance tasks through its FM operations team that has extensive rail sector experience. Among their responsibilities are cleaning and graffiti removal, building fabric work, platform marking, utilties testing, air conditioning and water treatment.

Since the changeover to LOROL management, and with a promised increase in staffing across the London Overground network implemented, there has been a 40 per cent drop in crime. JLIS has been busy too with 90 per cent of stations being deep cleaned and repainted. As Claire Brown, Customer Services Director reports, “We are keen to remove all the graffiti we can in and around the stations. Cleaning up walls and railway pillars in the vicinity of stations makes good sense – even though it is beyond our remit – as our passengers benefit from a cleaner and smarter railway.”

For JLIS MD, Tim Greer, this FM contract in the rail sector is just one of a growing business that has developed from the public sector work won, built and operated by its parent company, John Laing. As more PFI/PPP, LIFT, BSF and other public sector construction and management contracts come on stream, JLIS business grows in size and scope.

JLIS was formerly, Equion Facilities Management, a wholely owned subsidiary of John Laing created to support John Laing’s growing PPP business. Equion became JLIS in 2007. As Greer explained, JLIS primarily services the John Laing PFI portfolio and projects. “John Laing is no longer a construction business since it sold its construction arm to O’Rourke to create Laing O’Rourke. Global fund managers, Henderson acquired John Laing in late 2006, through Henderson Infrastructure Holdco Limited, to develop the business. Our job is to pull together all the company’s disparate functions. We are there to serve the SPV’s set up to manage the PFIs, acting as a bridge between the project at a high level, and all the service delivery on the ground, either by self delivery or by using subcontractors. John Laing can use other service providers, but JLIS has won in its own right, 18 of the 61 PFI projects that John Laing operates. All the PFI contracts are for 20-30 years.”

The PFI portfolio includes custodial facilities, schools, social housing and NHS LIFT contracts, as well as the London Overground FM contract.

JLIS has a significant presence in the custodial sector with the management of 27 police facilities or which 16 are in Manchester. As part of the major renewal programme for police property in the Metropolitan Police Authority in London, JLIS manages nine facilities for the Met Police in the capital built under PFI contracts by John Laing. These include the new police facilities in Lewisham, Bromley and Sutton, and six other stations across the capital. JLIS not only delivers cleaning, life cycle and M&E services, project work and help desk, it also provides civilian jailers, custody services, front desk staff and transcribing services as part of the 25 year contracts.

In the education sector, the Building Schools for the Future programme is providing Laing and JLIS with a long term involvement in secondary and higher education. For example, JLIS manages seven schools in Swindon and has implemented its helpdesk and service monitoring sofware, EQ 24/7, and rolled it out across other projects in the education sector, and across John Laing’s multiple contracts and business sectors.

JLIS also provides services to clients outside of John Laing’s PPP portfolio, such as The City Lit, the London adult education college where a 35-strong team ensures the smooth day-to-day running of the building and its services. (See PFM November 2005)

In the healthcare sector, the LIFT programme to improve primary health facilities is a key market, and John Laing has teamed up with HBOS in a joint-venture, called Primary Plus, to target NHS LIFT schemes. JLIS currently manages six of these contracts comprising 39 operational buildings located in Manchester, north and greater Nottingham, Leicester, Sandiwell in Birmingham and south Derby. Among the services it provides are hard FM including reactive maintenance and capital works, life cycle maintenance, the help desk and a range of soft services.

A growing area of activity for JLIS is social housing, building on the strength of John Laing’s involvement in urban regeneration in a number of areas including London’s East End. Here it has established a partnership with the Borough of Newham through its JV, Regenter. Initial refurbishment and lifecycle, planned and responsive maintenance and call centre services are being carried out by Equipe, a joint venture between Equion FM (now John Laing Integrated Services) and Pinnacle Maintenance Services. This has seen JLIS manage a three year refurbishment programme in Canning Town covering over 1,200 homes comprising a mix of low and high rise blocks, street properties and sheltered housing, to manage and maintain them for the next 30 years. The work has included installing new kitchens, bathrooms, carpets and curtains, and more with the tenants still in situ.

Greer sees a future for JLIS beyond these public sector schemes where the experience and systems developed in this sector have applications for corporate clients across the country.

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