See also: Network Rail tenders £350m telecoms framework

Network Rail is putting out to tender a multi-million pound contract for a variety of IT services.

Earlier this year Network Rail revealed details of a £350 million telecoms framework that would cover "multiple projects".

That framework was divided into a number of lots, where suppliers would be required to design, build, install, configure, test, operate, maintain and support the deployment of "communications systems and transport media solutions".

The latest "IT solutions and system integration framework" contract is expected to last four years and involve around five suppliers, said Network Rail in a tender notice.

The framework covers the "identification, designing, building, testing and integration of IT solutions to support Network Rail change projects and programmes", said the national rail network infrastructure provider.

Areas covered include core business back-office services like financial, HR, procurement and information systems management; internal and external communications; corporate compliance; logistics management, and business information management; and infrastructure lifecycle management.

The tender document says that the "Network Rail Information Management function is changing its operating model for engaging and supporting Network Rail business change programmes".

To support this new operating model, it says, "Network Rail is seeking to implement a significant change in its engagement with the supplier community for the implementation of technology solutions".

It stresses however, that "Network Rail wish to make it clear at this point that there is no intent to reduce the overall number of suppliers in the IT marketplace whom bring competitive solutions, innovation and agility to Network Rail business".

The intent "is that by contracting with a small group of prime suppliers, who are able to develop an understanding of Network Rail business and environment, those prime suppliers will be able to support Network Rail in identifying the best solutions in the marketplace to meet business requirements, and will lead on the implementation and integration of those solutions".

The framework agreement may also be renewed for a period after completion of the intial deal.

Suppliers have a deadline of 22 October to express their interest to tender and get their tender bids in by 16 November.