Subcontracting Railway Maintenance

Jacob Thommesen

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    In several European countries, national railway operators have been dismantled and partly privatized to create new contractual relations where operations originally performed internally are now outsourced to several companies. Breaking up work across several independent organizational and commercial entities tends to make coordination and control tasks more complex. It is therefore of interest to explore whether increased and specific risks arise when subcontracting arrangements of safety critical work safety are implemented.
    This paper focuses on the safety challenges faced by a Danish railway infrastructure manager (InfraMan), whichis subcontracting maintenance tasks to other companies. InfraMan has implemented various central elements in managing their subcontractors. The latter are required to present a safety plan as part of their bid, they must be approved if they are to be awarded a contract, and the competencies of their employees working on the railway are controlled and provided by InfraMan. However, this regime faces a number of further challenges, including uncertainties related to the safety plans, contested responsibility for the education program, difficulties in controlling the informal competencies, and a dilemma in options for sanctioning unsafe behavior.
    These and other dilemmas faced by the Danish railway company are analyzed as general challenges related to subcontracting and compared to similar experiences in other industries.
    Note: the study reported here, while partly funded via internal sources and the OECD Halden Project, is inspired by efforts of a task on “safety challenges posed by outsourcing” of EU iNTeg-Risk project (FP7 CP-IP 213345-2)
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationproceedings of the 2nd iNTeg-Risk Conference 2010
    Number of pages8
    Publication date2010
    Publication statusPublished - 2010
    Event2nd iNTeg-Risk Conference: New Technologies & Emerging Risks: Early Recognition, Monitoring and Integrated Management of Emerging, New Technology Related, Risks - Haus der Wirtschaft, Stuttgart, Germany
    Duration: 14 Jun 201018 Jun 2010


    Conference2nd iNTeg-Risk Conference: New Technologies & Emerging Risks
    LocationHaus der Wirtschaft
    OtherConference for: "Early Recognition, Monitoring and Integrated Management of Emerging, New Technology Related, Risks"

    Bibliographical note

    Conference proceeding

    2nd iNTeg-Risk Conference 2010, Stuttgart

    Cite this

    Thommesen, J. (2010). Subcontracting Railway Maintenance. In proceedings of the 2nd iNTeg-Risk Conference 2010