UK Rail Firms Need to Take Action on Supplier Risk

6 Mar 2015

In the last 12 months, almost a third (32%) of large UK companies had experienced issues due to a supplier’s financial instability.  Almost one in five (17%) had experienced problems due to a supplier’s poor health and safety practices.
The survey found UK business had experienced fatalities, cable strikes and falls. Further, in the months following these events, the companies involved were also impacted by financial and reputational damage.

Yet despite the series of setbacks, more than three-quarters (78%) of large UK companies said they were confident that the way they managed their supply chain helped them successfully identify and manage risk.

The market survey was commissioned by Achilles, which provides services for the Railway Industry Supplier Qualification Scheme (RISQS), to pre-qualify and verify suppliers on behalf of more than 110 buyer companies.  The survey was conducted by independent research company IFF, which interviewed 106 large UK companies.

In 2013-2014, there were more than 6,000 workforce injuries on the mainline infrastructure, according to the Office of Rail Regulation’s Safety Key Statistics 2013-2014 annual statistical release.

Suzanne O’Keane, rail and transport community manager at Achilles, said: “Safety is paramount in the rail industry and all firms have an entrenched responsibility to ensure all of their employees, contractors and subcontractors are able to return home safely at the end of every shift.

“Rail firms should take proactive steps to protect themselves from risk. We have found this is best achieved through a combination of three processes – gathering comprehensive information on suppliers in business critical areas, assessing each supplier using a risk matrix and performing wide-ranging audits on those deemed to be high risk.

“In our experience the most effective way for rail companies to effectively tackle risks associated with suppliers is by working together to apply common standards across all contractors.  Working collaboratively means rail firms can use a centralised database and share the administrative burden of collecting, managing and updating business critical information about suppliers.

“Doing so gives rail businesses the information and tools they need to make informed decisions about their suppliers and supply chain to proactively manage and mitigate risk.”

Box out

The survey asked UK companies to explain the impact the failure of a supplier had on their business.  This is what they had to say:

“We’ve had fatalities and cable strikes (hitting cables underground) which resulted in financial cost and reputational damage.”

“Safety practices needed to be reinforced. We had notices from clients about safety practices.”


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Rebecca Bantoft

Global Head of Corporate Communications & Events

  • +44 (0)1235 838134
  • +44 (0)7931 374627
  • rebecca.bantoft@achilles.com

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