Keeping the rail supply chain operating during the lockdown

Unipart Rail occupies a critical position in the rail supply chain. As the supply chain partner of many of the well known train operating companies and infrastructure repair/renewal contractors, its role in managing the supply base to meet changing demands has required a systematic response.

In common with much of the Rail industry, the business has been affected by the pandemic. The disruptions in the supply chain have come from both sides – a reduction in maintenance, projects and renewals as the numbers of trains reduce on the infrastructure, as well as supplier disruption as raw materials become scarce and some suppliers temporarily shut down manufacture to ensure their future survival.

Unipart Rail is working hard to maintain materials supply during the lockdown. They have always maintained high levels of availability through close partnering across the whole of the supply chain, but the pandemic has introduced such a large element of uncertainty Unipart Rail adjusted its way of working to respond to it.

Some initiatives in place include:


Unipart Rail has risk assessed all of its manufacturing operations and has adopted social distancing guidelines to protect employees and customers from Covid19.

Unipart Rail has an extremely skilled workforce in its manufacturing operations – skills Unipart Rail has always ensured are shared across whole team, to allow flexibility against varying demand patterns. These are proving invaluable now as demand for products changes. Teams have been redeployed into the manufacturing of signalling and power products because when the lockdown is eased Unipart Rail anticipates higher demand in these areas. 

By focusing on these items now, Unipart Rail will be able to maintain short lead times when demand increases.

The supplier base is wide and varied and has been affected in different ways. Many suppliers have ranges that are heavily aligned with the rail system – and as key industry suppliers they have been able to maintain outputs.

However, where suppliers are mainly manufacturing non-key industries and have seen a large decline in demand they have mothballed production and furloughed their team.

Unipart Rail responded to this by:

  • reviewing customer priorities with suppliers to ensure the flow of essential materials continues during the lockdown 
  • allocating additional resource to critical areas to ensure continued support the most strategically important suppliers through this difficult time
  • engaging with new suppliers to bring sanitising and protective equipment into its portfolio.

Noel Travers, Managing Director Unipart Rail said: “We will continue to respond to our customers’ demand for materials and services during the pandemic and will ramp up our responses when the lockdown eases. In the meantime we will ensure that we continue to serve the world’s railways by adding value with our supply chain, technology and product solutions.”

For more information on Unipart Rail visit