Road to Success: Keltbray Group

Fuller Landau team • June 11, 2018

Founded in 1976 as a groundworks and civil engineering contractor in the United Kingdom, Keltbray Group has since grown into a multi-discipline and award-winning specialist contractor with annual revenues in excess of £400 million, and a staff of more than 2,000 people. With specialist divisions for environmental management, demolition and deconstruction, asbestos management, reinforced concrete structures, civil engineering, and rail infrastructure, Keltbray has earned a first-rate reputation for its work on complex inner-city redevelopment projects.

In fact, the family-run operation has played an instrumental role in constructing and maintaining much of Britain’s built environment, facilitating some of the largest and most iconic construction projects across the UK – including the new Olympic Stadium, regeneration of the Battersea Power Station, and nearly every major rail electrification project in the UK for the past 7 years.

But rather than resting on its laurels, Keltbray has set its sights on overseas expansion – and that’s where Martin Brown enters the picture. Martin is the Managing Director of Keltbray’s specialist Rail division, which has seen a significant uptick in growth over the past 5 years. Educated and trained as a tunneling and electrical engineer, with more than 25 years of experience of major civil engineering and electrification projects, Martin is now leading the charge on Keltbray’s recent foray into Canada – the company’s first major overseas project.

“Two years ago, we were partners in constructing a major rail electrification project on the Great Western Rail Line from Reading to Cardiff,” explains Martin. “It was a highly complex project, but we completed it with great success. About two-thirds of the way through, however, part of the client’s team left the UK to join Aecon in Canada. It was the relationship that we had built with the client that ultimately provided us with the opportunity to come to Canada.”

Recently, the specialist team at Keltbray agreed to create a joint venture with Aecon to support construction of the light and heavy rail transit projects across Canada. The projected rail electrification works in Canada far outweigh the skilled workforce available; so, the Keltbray team will not only help construct the electrification projects but will also help facilitate and train local people to undertake the current and future works within Canada. Keltbray has set an aggressive objective for training Canadian nationals to undertake their roles. Within 30 months, they expect that 80% of their labour force constructing the rail electrification projects will be comprised of Canadian nationals.

“We take on jobs that nobody else wants to do or nobody else can do,” says Martin. “Either because they are high risk, highly political, or highly complex environments.” With that in mind, Keltbray Group invests heavily in training their staff and ensuring they are properly equipped to operate within these complex environments. “We’re very focused on our zero-accident goal,” continues Martin. “Health, safety, wellbeing, and training absolutely must go hand-in-hand. After all, a strong and healthy work force is what enables us to deliver on our promises to clients.”

Martin currently divides his time between Canada and the UK, and 8 of his employees from Keltbray’s Electrification division have moved here full-time. They are in the process of assisting Aecon to plan and create the support framework for developing the rail electrical systems from the initial design. Following that, they’ll progress into the construction phase with a big focus on efficiencies and protecting the environment (they use existing hydro power to build the tram systems). “Generally, the tunnels, track and supporting infrastructure will be constructed first and then the rail electrification system is constructed and energized,” explains Martin.

So, what’s on the horizon for Keltbray Group?

“We’ll continue to grow, expand, and diversify across the UK,” says Martin, “and we anticipate an expansion into Australia within the next 12 months. And of course, we’re looking forward to continuing our relationships here in Canada by building trust and growing our business alongside Aecon. We’ve established a registered business here in Canada and have signed a consultancy agreement with Aecon to work together for the next 5 years.”

With historic levels of new investment in infrastructure, the Government of Canada is allocating significant resources for building and developing cities across the country. “It’s an exciting time for Keltbray to make a contribution in Canada,” says Martin. We couldn’t agree more.

To learn more about Keltbray Group, visit


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