Making the processes of network and station changes as effective as possible
The industry processes are well defined and clear to all parties for managing changes to stations and tracks through the Station Access Conditions and the Network Code.
Station Access Conditions are the standard rules that govern the relationship between all contracting parties at a station covered by them, covering matters such as the process for agreeing physical changes to a station.
The Network Code is a common set of rules and industry procedures that apply to all parties who have a contractual right of access to the track owned and operated by Network Rail.
For a long-term programme to be able to clearly document the detail of all relevant changes at the early stages is not possible.
For the Thameslink Programme, the London Bridge station redevelopment was covered under a Complex Projects Procedure Notice (CPPN) and a Major Station Change issued in late 2012. This covered works through to 2017; a four-to-five year programme of works. As such, much of the detail was not yet fully decided and could not be agreed. The track changes were covered by a number of Network Changes, the Station Operational Interface Agreement (SOIA) and Entry Into Service (EIS).
All were inter-related with the links between the formal documentation being tightly controlled. Any changes that could impact signal sighting or Platform Train Interface (PTI) had to be reviewed and agreed throughout the Programme. For example, placement of, or changes to, platform furniture or buildings including Customer Information Screens (CIS); moves of staff from one location to another could impact on walking routes etc.
On the station side, it was agreed to use Reserved Matters alongside the Major Station Change and CPPN. Reserved Matters were mini Station Changes, but these were issued and agreed throughout the programme.
Reserved Matters included:
- Seating locations
- Locations of Ticket Vending Machines (TVMs)
- Gateline locations
- ATM locations
- A-Z poster boards
- Train crew walking routes
In all cases, early drafts of the formal documentation were discussed and issued for review with comments then being considered before the final versions were issued and signed. This provided the opportunity for operational considerations to be better understood during the early design stages. A ‘no surprises’ approach was followed.
- Timely turnaround of document reviews and changes.
- Recruiting subject matter operational experts who are not used to working in a project environment.
- Integrating station changes and railway system changes.
- Establishing a trusting and flexible environment where staff are not afraid to say what they think – this can pay dividends further along. Listening.
- 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.
- It was five+ years before the new train services would be introduced. The Station Change needed to allow for some contingency in staff numbers and flexibility. Where current operations are used to estimate numbers is a reasonable approach, the project must allow for changes in operational processes.
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 internally with a Project Initiation Document (or other Scope document), project plans, risk management and regular reviews.
- Keep documentation aligned with all relevant parties being invited to relevant reviews and meetings. For the Thameslink Programme the SOIA and EIS aligned.
- Be kept on copy of any changes and details of discussion. Network Rail, the TOCs and other interested third parties to be fully involved in various meetings discussing these and other matters and work together to ensure aspects are fully co-ordinated, with Network Rail taking overall responsibility.
Work together to understand each other’s viewpoints and reach compromises.
Case Study produced by Anne Clark, Network Rail Project Manager, April 2019.
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