Operational Readiness: New timetable introduction

Ensuring colleagues across the rail industry were aware of the new Thameslink timetable ahead of its introduction in May 2018.

Colleagues across the rail industry needed to be made aware of the changes the new Thameslink timetable would bring – from technology to new routes – in the lead up to its introduction in May 2018.

To achieve this goal, and to reach a large and diverse audience of colleagues from across the rail industry before the timetable’s introduction, the Thameslink Operational Readiness team within Network Rail developed a package of materials and events, tailored to be accessible and interesting to a wide range of audiences.

Industry briefing roadshow

A rolling industry briefing roadshow went to a host of locations, ensuring that the maximum number of people involved in delivering operations and maintenance, from signallers to drivers and response teams, could attend. Over three weeks, the roadshow was delivered across the entire Thameslink network from Brighton to York, and from Cambridge to Tonbridge.

As well as collaborating with multiple Network Rail teams, the project team also involved colleagues from train operators as presenters. This enabled staff to feel comfortable in each setting, while providing opportunities to mix with Network Rail colleagues. To this end, events included ‘icebreakers’ so that attendees, who had been deliberately seated with colleagues from other parts of the industry, could share common experiences.

At the end of each event, a variety of resources were provided as takeaways for delegates, including posters on mobilisation, maintenance and ticketing. Each attendee was also provided with a workbook, which included details on the new technology being brought in and the new infrastructure that was required to facilitate the changes. A further, separate workbook contained the details of the timetable changes – along with train ID simplifiers to help once the timetable change started.

Following each event, quotes and images were shared on the Yammer internal communications social network. A feature on Network Rail’s internal intranet, Connect, also provided an overview of the timetable changes, and what they meant for the industry. A comprehensive FAQ document was also compiled using feedback from questions asked at each briefing, to help colleagues moving forward after the timetable’s introduction.

Supporting activities

In addition to the roadshow of industry briefings, the project team undertook:

  • Drop-in sessions for individuals unable to attend their scheduled briefing
  • One-off sessions for the Department for Transport, Transport Focus and London Travel Watch
  • Presentations at Network Rail Safety Workshops and Business Briefings
  • Commissioning of a video, shared among all Network Rail teams in the South East route
  • Mobilisation of a team of volunteers to be visible in Network Rail’s managed stations during the first week of the timetable introduction.


Delegates at the industry briefings said they felt prepared following the event, with many requesting additional workbooks and resources to take back to their workplaces.  In-station volunteers said they felt well prepared for their roles in advance and, following their shifts, that they were able to respond to enquiries from the public from a well-informed position.

Without the industry briefings and supporting communications that ensured staff were well prepared for the introduction of the timetable, the wider operational issues surrounding the introduction of the May 2018 timetable would have been further exacerbated.