Recommendations for future projects to have a culture of collaborative / partnership working from the start
The Southeastern Major Programmes team was established to assist with the Thameslink Programme, other Network Rail infrastructure and train operating company change management projects. The team helps deliver railway enhancement projects in partnership with Network Rail, Department for Transport and other train operators. They manage Southeastern’s involvement in the projects from design through to implementation and project close out, working with other areas of the business to ensure that all operational aspects of the project are understood, met, relevant budgets are kept to and that staff and passengers are kept involved and informed of all changes.
As the lead Station Facilities Operator at London Bridge station (which is a Network Rail managed station), it was critical that Southeastern were fully involved and treated as part of the team right through from the early design stages to testing, entry into service and post implementation stages. Similarly, for all changes to the track and signalling which lead to changes for drivers required full consultation, agreement to, training and testing involvement.
The team’s objectives were to work closely with the Thameslink Programme teams providing subject matter expertise on operational considerations early on in design stages and throughout the development and implementation life-cycles. Focus was always on ensuring high levels of safety and performance are delivered, customer satisfaction levels maintained and improved where possible, staff are fully involved as and where appropriate and staff and passengers are fully aware of the changes.
Objectives of the team:
- Everyone home safe every day
- No operational incidents caused by the Thameslink Programme
- Act in an environmentally responsible manner.
- Understand, focus on and exceed passenger expectations
- Deliver effective passenger communications in a timely manner
- Provide innovative solutions during station development and engineering works to reduce disruption to passengers
- Successful stakeholder management.
- Drive continuously improving performance for passengers
- Maintain and improve levels of train performance
- Reduce delay minutes and cancellations
- Project related weekend and Bank Holiday engineering works monitored and managed to ensure no negative effects on performance following completion.
- Southeastern people make a difference to our passengers by living our values and delivering our goals
- Work closely with other departments in Southeastern
- Effective communications to employees
- Good staff awareness
- Always being approachable.
- Build a positive reputation
- Improve national Passenger Survey results
- Minimise disruption to passengers.
- Invest in growth and deliver our commitments
- Develop robust business cases
- Meet and manage budgets
- Monitor benefits and measure post project completion.
- Be an effective partner to deliver industry change programmes
- Clear and visible project plans and reporting
- Working closely with Network Rail, Department for Transport, TOCs and internal Southeastern departments to effectively manage the projects.
- Key challenges
- For a project that spans a few years, retaining skilled resource to provide consistent expertise.
- Recruiting subject matter operational experts who are not used to working in a project environment.
- Establishing a trusting and flexible environment where staff are not afraid to say what they think – this can pay dividends further along.
- Agreeing the Commercial aspects so the situation does not happen where staff say they are too busy or activities that are required cannot be afforded.
- Maintaining operational expertise, for example drivers – retaining driver competency was important.
- Recommendations for future projects
The following recommendations, based on the direct experiences of the Network Rail and the Train Operating Companies involved, will result in a more operationally focussed delivery of infrastructure changes:
- The relevant Train Operating Company to identify dedicated operational resource (timetable developers, drivers, station managers, communications); treat the infrastructure changes as projects with a Project Initiation Document (or other Scope document), project plans, risk management and regular reviews.
- Obtain senior management buy in. Make sure they review and sign off the scope documents, are provided with regular status reports with risks highlighted and either make decisions where required or endorse decisions made where these would result in impacts on performance, reputation or other key measure.
- Involve driver representatives with the knowledge of the changes to be rostered to drive the test trains.
- Involve station representatives throughout the project to assist with inputs to detail design, managing the stages of change, acceptance and handovers.
- Appoint a Forward Planning Specialist; knowledge of passengers; numbers, types, behaviours, options for alternative journeys (time, routes, work at home etc.) is key.
Case Study produced by Anne Clark, Network Rail Project Manager, April 2019.
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