How to Succeed in Writing TfL Tenders

Published3rd February 2021 AuthorJohn Hudson

Everything you need to know to successfully apply to TfL tenders

Transport for London (TfL) tenders are lucrative opportunities for any business. Transport for London has an annual budget of £9.7 billion and it stretches across a whole range of subsections. These include:

  • Streets, buses and surface operations
  • The Underground
  • The Elizabeth Line
  • Rail
  • Property
  • Media
  • Commercial consulting and international operations

Due to having such a large budget, there are plenty of TfL tenders across the board. There are opportunities in almost any subsection from affordable housing to e-scooters and network infrastructure to quantity surveying. It’s not unusual for there to be framework megaprojects with budgets in the hundreds of millions.

If you think that only big, long-established businesses win TfL tenders, you’d be mistaken. SME’s are actively being chosen over larger corporations. An architect SME won a place on a three-year design and engineering framework at the beginning of January. The young practices are constantly being awarded places alongside big names on countless TfL tenders.

The UK government has implemented a scheme to award more SMEs tendering contracts. They have a target of spending at least £1 in £3 on SMEs. This means that public organisations are actively looking to award contracts to smaller businesses. This is nothing but good news if you’re an SME looking to branch into the world of procurement.

How the TfL tender process works

TfL tenders are awarded in a four-step process:

  1. Advertisement of opportunity

TfL advertises their procurement on three separate platforms.

It can take up quite a hefty chunk of your day if you are regularly checking these sites for updates. If you don’t have that time to spare – we have a solution for you. If you sign up to our Transport Tenders portal, you can receive daily alerts of new TfL tenders. Our Opportunity Trackers manually scour all portals and upload them in one convenient location. This saves you time, allowing you to focus on running your business.

Here are some recent examples of past TfL tenders we have sourced on our Transport Tenders portal:

REACT — Business Services and Logistics

Department of Health and Social Care- London – Budget: £47,000,000


Logistics Managed Services Provider

Westminster City Council- London – Budget: £8,000,000


Transport and freezing services



LBN – Transport Business System

London Borough of Newham- London – Budget: Undisclosed


Livestock Disposal & Transport Framework

Defra Network e-Tendering Portal- London – Budget: £2,000,000


Contact us today for a free demo of our Transport Tenders portal that takes the hassle out of tender tracking.

  1. Standard selection questionnaire

Companies must submit a standard selection questionnaire (SQ) to take part in the procurement. A pre-qualification questionnaire (PQQ) could be used instead of an SQ depending on the contract opportunity. This step assesses the potential supplier’s capability and past experience. The supplier’s responses are evaluated and then those who are successful are shortlisted. Generally speaking, the shortlist comprises of only three to five companies who are then invited to submit tenders.

These questionnaires could require you to provide the following information:

  • Contact details
  • Organisation and capability
  • Financial capability
  • Insurance
  • Good standing
  • Technical capability
  • Past performance
  • Health, safety and quality
  • Equal opportunities
  • Supplier diversity

If your company is in the rail industry, you should register on the Railway Industry Supplier Qualification Scheme (RISQS). This is used as part of the TfL supplier selection and assurance process.

  1. Submitting a tender

Shortlisted suppliers will receive an invitation to tender (ITT). This will include all the appropriate documents and specifications needed to write your response. The ITT assesses the bidder’s proposal for delivering the specific works and/or services.

  1. ITT evaluation and contract award

A bidder’s tender is then evaluated objectively to ensure they can successfully fulfil the requirements of the proposed contract. The contract is then awarded to the company with the highest overall score.

TfL gives unsuccessful companies feedback to help them improve their tenders for future procurement responses.

Public sector tendering 

Transport for London is a local government body that is responsible for the transport system around Greater London. Their procurement is done through public sector tendering. This means that they are partial to using framework agreements and Dynamic Purchasing Systems (DPS). They have certain rules and regulations that they have to meet when procuring goods and services.

Framework Agreements

Framework agreements are often used within public sector tendering. They establish the terms that’ll govern any contract that may be awarded during the life of the agreement. Framework agreements set out the terms and conditions for making specific purchases. They enable the buyer to purchase goods and services quickly using a select number of suppliers.

Framework agreements typically have multiple suppliers on each agreement and enable a sustainable local supply chain. Suppliers can then bid for work as an when it arises skipping the PQQ or SQ stage. This allows them to go straight to the ITT stage. This saves time on both ends. They’re often used by buyers looking to procure large volumes of the good or service.

There are two types of framework agreements:

Single supplier arrangements (SSA)

SSA’s are used when TfL requires a security of supply. They may confer to a single supplier company to complete works over a ser period of time. During this contract, there are set terms and conditions which are in place for the duration of the agreement. It won’t normally contain any minimum levels of purchase. Moreover, the exclusivity of the deal may mean the supplier provides the products at a lower price.

Multi-supplier arrangements (MSA)

Most framework agreements that are offered for TfL tenders are MSA’s. They provide flexibility and normally include multiple suppliers. They allow TfL to achieve the best value for money without having to repeat the full tendering process. Mini competitions are held when a tender is put out. If a supplier has secured a place on the MSA they can send their response in the form of an ITT. This means they don’t have to fill the PQQ or SQ again.

Top priorities for TfL tender

When writing TfL tenders, you may need to include how your business works towards the following factors:

  • Encouraging equality and diversity
  • Enhancing social value
  • Embedding fair employment practices
  • Enabling skills, training and employment
  • Promoting ethical sourcing practices
  • Improving environmental sustainability
  • COVID-19 recovery
  • Innovative solutions
  • Collaborative working

Social value within your TfL tender is one that should not be neglected. All central government contracts now have a compulsory weighting of 10% on social value.

If you’re hoping to become a TfL supplier, then you need to ensure that your writing is to a high quality. Buyers care about the quality of your writing, no matter what industry you’re in. You want to demonstrate you’ve read the specification and answered it in your response. A well-written, precise and easy to read proposal is essential to a successful bid.

If you’re not a natural born writer don’t worry – we can help! 

Bid Writing Services

Our team of Bid Writers at Hudson Succeed know the trials and tribulations you may have when writing a bid. Our team can help take the headache out of it by handling it all for you. They have an 87% success rate and over 40-years of bid writing experience. They have four bespoke bid writing packages to suit your businesses’ needs:

  1. A Tender Ready programme

The Tender Ready programme is perfect for those who have never tendered before. Our Bid Writers will help develop your corporate literature. You then have the option of three days of bid consultancy if you need support writing a bid.

  1. Tender Writing services

Our Tender Writing service allows our Bid Writers to take care of the whole tendering process for you. They’ll provide you with a full tender writing breakdown and let you know how long it will take.

  1. The Tender Improvement package

This Tender Improvement package is for those businesses who aren’t seeing successful results from their own tendering efforts.

  1. Tender Mentor support

Tender Mentor helps make sure your TfL tenders are the best they can possibly be. Our Bid Writers will make sure your response is error free before you submit.

A subscription to Transport Tenders could increase your chances of securing TfL tenders. With time saved and numerous opportunities found, Transport Tenders can feed seamlessly into your business development strategy. With a subscription to the portal, you receive:

  • Unlimited access to the Transport Tenders portal. Increase your chances of success and one of the first to view new TfL tenders.
  • A dedicated Account Manager on hand to help you source TfL tenders.
  • A daily email bulletin of all the logistics tenders published that day, helping you stay ahead of the game.
  • A free 20-minute phone consultation. Chat to one of our team about a Transport for London tender you’re interested in. We can provide expert advice, insight and guidance to support your tendering efforts.

Book a free live demo today for a quick tour of our portal. Get in touch to learn more about our bespoke bid writing services.

On Transport Tenders, we also post contracts for:

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