Northern Trains Limited

Website Design, Build, and On-Going Support and Maintenance

28 Incomplete applications

23 SME, 5 large

1 Completed application

1 SME, 0 large

Important dates

Friday 30 April 2021
Deadline for asking questions
Friday 7 May 2021 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications
Friday 14 May 2021 at 11:59pm GMT


Summary of the work
The build, hosting and maintenance of a market leading rail website.
Latest start date
Thursday 1 July 2021
Expected contract length
24 Months and possible extension for 6 months
No specific location, for example they can work remotely
Organisation the work is for
Northern Trains Limited
Budget range
It is estimated that the build development work can be delivered within the budget range of £250,000 to £300,000 and annual on-going hosting, maintenance and development of £90,000 to £125,000.

About the work

Why the work is being done
Northern calls at 500 stations across the North of England, 20 per cent of the total in the country and plays a vital role in the north of England by connecting tens of thousands of people to work, leisure, education and more every day.
Northern has transformed its fleet with a multi-million pound investment in brand new trains, completed the refurbishment of more than 250 trains, retired its Pacers, and continued to extend platforms to make way for better, longer trains. Northern has invested in a series of new projects and upgrades across the network to further improve customers’ experience. These include a £2.5million facelift of more than 40 sites and £650,000 of car park improvements.
The operator has proudly introduced an industry leading mobility scooter policy, opening up 140 stations across 21 routes to customers using mobility scooters.
Northern are searching for a partner to build a new, customer focused website which supports and reflects the business’ transformational change as the demand for digital rail travel services continues to grow. We are looking for a partner to deliver market leading travel information services to our wide customer base.
Problem to be solved
• The retail engine and new Salesforce CRM platform are developing at a fast rate and the website must be able to support these functions to deliver personalised, customer focused services.
• Website usage has grown significantly since its introduction in early 2016 and usage has shifted heavily to mobile. Northern require a website which not just mobile optimised, but built mobile-first, with intuitive UI for customers on-the-go.
• The existing Content Management System used is Joomla V3.9 and requires updating to maintain future support levels and development opportunities. This presents an opportunity to consider a new, easier to use and manipulate CMS platform.
• Details of current roadmap items will be shared with shortlisted applicants as part of the proposal stage.
Who the users are and what they need to do
External –
• As a regional railway, Northern typically offer short distance rail services for leisure and commuting purposes. Customers must be able to self-manage their rail journeys, being able to check travel information and proceed to purchase on the move, without friction.
• Community and Press members - Require secure access to content sections not available to the public.

Internal (CMS access) –
• Internal Marketing Team – Requires full access to create, edit and publish new content with minimum requirement for developer support.
• Supporting Digital Agencies – Require access to support with SEO and other optimisation practices.
• Internal Communications Team – Requiring CMS access from any location and at any time to publish urgent customer information updates with ease.
• CMS access levels must be variable by publisher and contributor levels.
Early market engagement
Any work that’s already been done
The exisiting website demonstrates the minimum viable product, including all API's, travel tools and services required as a minimum. The retail engine which the website passes off to already exists and is not in scope for this project.
Existing team
A variety of suppliers and internal teams as follows: -

- Digital Project (Website) Manager
- Senior Digital Marketing Manager
- Customer Communications Manager (Communications)
- Media Manager (Communications)
- Customer Experience Team
- IT and Information Security teams - Supporting Agencies - Incumbent Creative, Content, SEO and Digital Marketing Services.
Current phase
Not started

Work setup

Address where the work will take place
Northern HQ's are York and Manchester, but work can be carried out remotely.
Working arrangements
Typical working arrangements will involve weekly/periodic project status meetings, exclusively via Microsoft Teams and at our offices in York, Leeds, Manchester and/or other agreed support agency locations. Our partners are expected to be available remotely or on-site to manage relationships with senior stakeholders, project managers and our customers. Support services agreements must be in place to allow 24/7/365 support emergency support.
Security clearance

Additional information

Additional terms and conditions
• NTL Drug & Alcohol policy
• NTL responsible procurement policy
• NTL code of conduct

Skills and experience

Buyers will use the essential and nice-to-have skills and experience to help them evaluate suppliers’ technical competence.

Essential skills and experience
  • Demonstrate experience within the last 3 years of building scaleable mobile-first websites with e-commerce functionality
  • Demonstrate experience within the last 3 years of working closely with supporting agencies to embed SEO reccomendations and make updates which compliment digital marketing activity (PPC, Digital Display, Social Media)
  • Show/demonstrate expertise of delivering products to relevant industry regulations including but not limited to PCI DSS, DPA, GDPR, ISO27001 and PSD2.
  • Demonstrate ability to produce secure content areas accessible by username/password.
  • Demonstrate experience within the last 3 years of proactively designing and developing inclusive web solutions which meet or exceed accesibility standards for public sector bodies:
  • Evidence a 24/7/365 support function for the internal team, ensuring support is available for on-call teams.
  • Demonstrate ability to facilitate personalised customer experiences though CRM integration.
  • Demonstrate experience within the last 3 years of producing quality front-end website builds delivered in frequent sprint cycles, able to be tested on dedicated UAT systems.
  • Evidence experience hosting websites on Amazon Web Services, maintaining a minimum 99.5% up-time.
  • Demonstrate production of websites with easy-to-use CMS platforms, which offer internal updates.
  • Demonstrate ability to scale up resource when larger development projects or short lead time projects require.
  • Demonstrate experience within the last 3 years of building scaleable mobile-first websites with e-commerce functionality.
  • Web security side it needs to at a minimum to be TLSv1.2 (TLSv1.3 if it's capable). Pen testing will be arranged to ensure it is secure with the awarded supplier.
Nice-to-have skills and experience
  • Demonstrate integration with Salesforce CRM Marketing Cloud, Help Centre and Messenger Services (Salesforce are current incumbent CRM agency).
  • Demonstratable experience working developing travel and tourism websites.
  • Demonstratable experience working within the travel industry and/or other regulated industries.
  • Provide expertise in Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) best practices to improve sales metrics.
  • Demonstrate experience within the last 3 years of utilising market leading conversion optimisation tools e.g. Crazy Egg, SEM Rush, Visual Web Optimiser etc… to deliver best UX/UI for the customer.

How suppliers will be evaluated

All suppliers will be asked to provide a written proposal.

How many suppliers to evaluate
Proposal criteria
  • Approach to briefed project, including indicative roadmap with timescales.
  • Evidenced successful delivery of similar projects.
  • Confidence the supplier can build and deliver a solution to seamlessly replace the existing website without disruption to the customer.
  • Confidence the supplier can collaborate well with internal teams and incumbent agencies.
  • Value for money and quality, assessed in comparison to other pitching suppliers.
  • Answers to questions during the interview/presentation stage.
  • Team structure, support levels and confidence in consistent and on-going delivery.
Cultural fit criteria
  • The supplier will share knowledge and experience with other team members, being able to work with and support colleagues with low technical expertise.
  • Confidence the supplier understands the Northern Trains Ltd brand and values, and will deliver work which meets these criteria.
  • Confidence the supplier will be passionate about delivering easy-to-use, accessible solutions for any potential user.
  • Be pro-active and collaborative when making decisions and working with colleagues and other supporting agencies.
  • Confidence the supplier will understand and meet briefs on time and budget.
  • Be comfortable standing up for their discipline.
  • A good working knowledge and strategic understanding of Northern and the North is preferred.
  • Understanding our targeting and also the variations across our region would be helpful when working through our targeting and delivering media plans.
Payment approach
Capped time and materials
Additional assessment methods
  • Case study
  • Work history
  • Reference
  • Presentation
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence


Cultural fit




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