Our UK business performed well in the first half of the financial year, having successfully showcased our engineering design and planning skills as the official engineering design services provider to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. This multiple award winning project is an excellent example of Atkins at its best as we demonstrated the breadth and depth of our skills. The range of projects undertaken was extensive, ranging from the fundamental rehabilitation and transformation of an industrial wasteland in East London into the Olympic park, the design of the temporary venues to accommodate the various sporting activities, to gas flow dynamics to ensure the Olympic torch shone brightly over a spectacularly successful games.
Both revenue and operating profit are in line with the previous half year, despite the disposal in November 2011 of our UK asset management business which contributed revenue and profit in the prior year of £20.2m and £0.3m respectively.
Closing headcount stands at 9,169. After adjusting for the staff who transferred as part of the asset management sale last year, average headcount increased by over 300 staff year on year, representing growth of 3.5%, as we have been actively recruiting across a number of business sectors.
In contrast to this time last year, our rail business has a strong forward workload, having secured in January two Network Rail signalling major project frameworks for Sussex/Wessex and Kent/Anglia, worth in excess of £400m over a seven year period. Further project awards have been confirmed in the half year totalling more than £60m for Wolverhampton, East Sussex and Farnham signalling schemes, which is in addition to our ongoing work on the Cardiff Area Re-signalling scheme. We are also progressing well with our engineering design work on the Country South section of High Speed 2.
Our highways and transportation business is also busy and there are encouraging signs from the UK Government of increased flexibility in funding and a desire to accelerate certain schemes. In our consultancy business there was a notable success with the award of the Wiltshire Council consultancy contract, which commences in December 2012. This supplements other recent framework wins already underway for the South Wales Trunk Road Agent and Surrey County Council.
The three initial sections of the M25 widening undertaken as part of the Connect Plus DBFO joint venture are complete and were open for traffic ahead of budget and on time for the Olympics. The later upgrade sections are currently in the design and pre-construction phase and are progressing to plan.
The successful delivery of the Olympic programme was a key focus of the design and engineering major projects business in the first six months of the year, along with other major infrastructure design projects in the UK and support to other regions, most notably the Middle East. Our property and design business continues to maintain a good coverage of local authority framework contracts, the most significant of which is the appointment by Scape of Faithful+Gould as the lead supplier in a major, four year, national asset management, surveying and design services framework, which commenced at the beginning of September. Our regional network of offices continues to focus on education, healthcare, defence and aviation infrastructure.
Our water business is benefiting from high volumes within the AMP5 framework and supporting a number of water companies with consultancy input to their preparations for AMP6 regulatory investment period. In addition, we have just re-secured our place on Northern Ireland Water's frameworks (2012 to 2015). Demand for our energy geotechnics services by clients such as BP and Total is increasing and there is a regular flow of new commissions and extensions for our masterplanning, development and regeneration, ports and maritime services. We continue to support large projects with construction services on the £15bn Crossrail project and on High Speed 2, where we are carrying out the environmental impact assessments for the Rural North section covering Warwickshire and Staffordshire and tunnel design in Buckinghamshire. This part of our business has increased its headcount by 170 (13%) in the past twelve months, reflecting the high level of market opportunities.
Our defence, aerospace and communications businesses continue to perform well. The aerospace sector in particular is seeing strong growth, with our recent appointment as a tier 1 supplier to Airbus/EADS affirming our reputation in this market.
Our management consultancy business has had a good first half year having secured business change and transformation work with EDF and Network Rail. We have continued our security and intelligence work for central Government, as well as supporting BAA’s IT outsourcing contract in partnership with Capgemini, leveraging our position in aviation.
Faithful+Gould has continued to perform well in a challenging but stable market, delivering value enhancing project and cost management services to a wide range of clients across the public and private sectors.
Elsewhere in the UK, as previously reported in May 2012, the Group completed the sale of its non-controlling interest in RMPA Holdings Limited (which delivered the Colchester Garrison PFI project) for a net consideration of £14.4 million. The profit on sale of £7.6m, which is reported below the Group’s operating profit line, does not appear in the segmental result above.