Rail Principal Contractor Licencing

Any business that wants to work as a Network Rail Principal Contractor (PC) , they will need a Network Rail Sponsor and must apply for a license from Network Rail. As such, holding a rail principal Contractor Licence is crucial for many businesses working in the rail industry. Here, we’re going to take a look at the details that you need to know about rail principal Contractor Licencing, the benefits of getting licensed, as well as some of the particulars of applying, renewing, and other information you may need to know.

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The role of principal contractors

Principal contractors work in the construction phase of any rail projects. They are the primary contractor and the lead on the project, responsible for working with the other contractors to manage the project, ensuring that the work is done effectively and with a focus on health and safety. The principal contractor is appointed by the client.

The principal contractor ensures that health and safety risks are accounted for, monitored, and managed as is needed for all workers on the project. This includes those who are working on- site, but also those members of the public. Highlighting safety hazards, implementing safeguards, and creating safety plans are some of the primary duties of principal contractors.

Principal contractors are primarily required when the client is carrying out a project that involves more than a single contractor. If a project is going to require more than one contractor, then the client should include them in the project as soon as possible to allow them to prepare a construction phase plan, co-ordinate with the principal designer and other contractors, and identify health and safety hazards they will have to address.

A principal contractor will be working with the other parties throughout the duration of the pre- construction and construction phase, planning, managing, monitoring, and coordinating efforts to ensure health and safety throughout. As such, though the principal contractor does not necessarily need to be on-site at all times, they must have a responsible member of their team or a trusted sub-contractor foreman there to take responsibility.

Can the principal contractor be the principal designer?

A frequent question is whether or not an organization work as both principal contractor and principal designer at the same time. In general, the answer is yes, but this does come with some caveats, The principal design is responsible for making design decisions, identifying and dealing with risks, ensuring the compliance of other designers on the project, and more.

If a principal contractor has the skills, expertise and ability to fulfil the role of the principal designer on a project without jeopardizing their performance in either role, then they can do it.

However, depending on the size and nature of the project, as well as when the principal contractor is brought on, they may not be able to fulfill both roles at once.

The rail principal Contractor Licence

Any rail suppliers and contractors that want to work as a principal contractor must have a principal Contractor Licence for any project that requires more than one contractor. Governed by NR Standard NR/L2/INI/CP0070 v5, this applies to all organizations that wish to take on the role.

The license is given out by Network Rail, with their Principal Contractor Licence Assurance team ensuring that all PCs can carry out duties on their behalf according to their standards under the Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2015.

Some of the suppliers that have earned their rail principal Contractor Licence and work as suppliers for Network Rail includes Amey Rail Ltd., Colt Construction, QTS Group, EDG Energy Customers, Story Contracting, and so on.

As such, it should be clear that any suppliers looking to work in the rail industry should have their rail principal Contractor Licence. Taking on government rail projects as a principal contractor simply is not possible without it.

Becoming a principal contractor

Any supplier can become a principal contractor on Network Rail projects if they are able to demonstrate their abilities by being verified and qualified by the Railway Industry Supplier Qualification Scheme. They have to go through several modules, including Core, Sentinel, CDM and safe work planning and will go through examinations to ensure they meet those requirements. They will also be externally certified to three industry standards: ISO 9001:2015 (Quality Management System), ISO 14001:2015 (Environmental Management System) & ISO 45001:2018 (Occupational Health and Safety Management System).

The rail principal Contractor Licencing process, using pre-qualification assessment services and self-assessing using standard health and safety pre-qualification questions in Publicly Available Specification PAS 91 takes time and effort. As such, teams like JVR Consultancy can help suppliers make the process of getting the accreditation they need smoother, with plenty of experience in working with the process.

Following the issuing of a rail principal contracting license, a principal contractor must ensure ongoing compliance with a series of self-made audits, and the Network Rail PC Assurance Team may terminate the license if there is any failure to renew it or failure to notify them on any issues of delays with renewing.
Self-audits and renewals have to be carried out once every two years by those with a rail PCL (primary contracting license.) Teams like JVR Consultancy can help suppliers with ongoing support and maintenance, ensuring that they are kept aware of what they need to do to keep their PCL and when they need to do it.

Start on the road to getting accredited with JVR Consultancy

If you are looking to work in the rail industry as a principal contractor, then rail government contracts can make up a big part of your business, and rail principal Contractor Licencing can play a big role in that.
At JVR Consultancy, we make it our mission to support rail industry businesses in getting the licensing that they need. At the time of writing, we have a 100% success rate in helping any businesses that use our services get the accreditation they need. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team

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Achieve Accreditation and Compliance with JVR

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Speak with one of our experienced consultants. At JVR, we know that time is precious, and you want the answers to your questions quickly, especially during an audit!. Once we speak with you for the first time over the phone, we need around 10 minutes to fully evaluate which accreditation you need support with and a brief introduction into you and your company.

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