Client profile: David Diskin


David Diskin


Operations Director


Carillion is one of the UK’s leading integrated support services companies, with extensive construction capabilities and a substantial portfolio of Public Private Partnership projects. In the rail sector, it delivers infrastructure services, construction services and facilities management in the UK and Canada.

Tell us about yourself.

My parents came from Ireland in the early 60s and my father worked as a joiner in the north of England. My first exposure to construction was working with him when I was a teenager and it inspired me to become an engineer. In 1989 I joined the Tarmac Group (a company that eventually became Carillion in 1999) and was put through an education program which saw me earn a National Certificate in Construction Engineering, followed by further study at university in Civil Engineering. Following a period working on energy from waste and water treatment facilities, I joined Alfred McAlpines where I began my career in the rail sector. When Carillion took over McAlpines in 2008, I had literally come full circle. The merger opened up new avenues for me and cemented my passion for the rail industry.

Tell us about the Doncaster to Water Orton (D2WO) project that Carillion is working on with GHD?

As part of our MAFA Framework agreement with Network Rail, Carillion is concluding the D2WO project, which is a significant part of the UK rail network, traversing the major cities of the north to Birmingham in the midlands. We are delivering a multi-discipline scope of works. GHD has been working with us to provide design management services – such as managing the developing, review, submission and approval of designs against a tight program of track possessions. The route from Doncaster to Water Orton runs for 177 km through the East and West Midlands. It is an ideal route for freight apart from one thing – it is too narrow. Large containers can’t pass down the line without fouling bridges, platforms and station canopies. This project clears the route for large container freight traffic.

Carillion has had a long association with Network Rail? Tell us about some other recent projects.

We have been working together for quite some time. Today we are the largest supplier of infrastructure services to Network Rail. Some recent projects include the East London Line, North London Railway Infrastructure Project and Southampton Tunnel. We are also providing facilities management to London Overground at sites spread across 20 London boroughs. Most recently, we were selected as Network Rail’s preferred partner to deliver £100m of track renewal work. Plus, a joint venture we established with SPL Powerlines was appointed as one of four suppliers to deliver a £2b program to electrify more than 2000 miles of Britain’s railways over the next seven years.

What are some of the challenges and opportunities Carillion faces in delivering projects?

Growth is both a challenge and opportunity for Carillion. Our volume of projects is expanding and we need to be increasing our capacity to match this. As we grow, managing people is a huge focus for us as is investing in health, safety and competency. It’s all about looking at risk and making safety personal. In terms of expansion, we are of course taking a keen interest in the UK’s new high speed rail network known as High Speed 2 (HS2). This is an extremely exciting and challenging project that a multi-disciplined construction business like Carillion is perfectly aligned with. We are building resilience within our teams to deal with the demands of this project as its scope crystalises, whilst ensuring this does not detract from fulfilling current and future long term commitments with our primary client Network Rail.

How do you manage health and safety?

Put simply, we don’t compromise. Through a range of programs and training we are working hard to achieve our Target Zero for accidents and ill health caused by work. All contracts are assessed for health and safety risks at each stage and senior managers regularly visit to review health and safety with employees at all levels. Like many large companies, we have many processes that support the way we keep our teams safe and efficient, but paperwork alone will not be the only remedy. That’s why we are continuing to invest significant time and resources in behavioural training of our teams, drawing out personal responsibility and influence in the way we work. In simple terms it’s a focus on making safety personal.

Through our 'Health Like Safety' program we also promote healthier lifestyles, and are embarking on a journey that will look at the ways we provide nutrient, physical and mental health support and launder services. In particular, we are focusing on fatigue management, not just the 'here and now' of a person’s tiredness rating, but a forecast as to when this will happen, so our teams can plan proactively to ensure our people get home safely every day.

What's next for Carillion?

We are committed to making tomorrow a better place and our vision is to be a leader in delivering integrated solutions for infrastructure, buildings and services. Rail is a key part of our future and we will continue to deliver rail projects, rail maintenance and services to the highest standards of quality and safety underpinned by sustainable organic growth where our key resource, our people, are at the heart of our business model and reputation.