The UK’s rail infrastructure network is divided into nine routes managed by Network Rail. The Network Rail South East route, connecting the capital to the southern parts of the country and to Europe, is the busiest in the country, with more than 500 million passenger journeys per year. However, they had a blind spot – small-minute delays which were impacting millions of passengers per day and ultimately reducing the efficiency and capacity of the overall network.
The majority of delays are only for 1 or 2 minutes (sub-threshold delays) for which detailed root cause analysis is not carried out. When causes of delays are unknown, addressing them is nearly impossible. In 2016, 40% of delay minutes on the route were sub-threshold delays.
Failure to address delays results in (1) passenger delay and dissatisfaction, (2) reduced capacity and efficiency in the network, (3) reputational and economic impact and (4) additional costs from delay management.
Amey Consulting was appointed by Network Rail to gain a better understanding of where, how, when and what these small delays occur and support them in addressing this key performance issue.
Our approach had to be different and the value of a ‘data led’ consulting input had to be demonstrated across the broad and diverse sector of long experienced railway operators, engineers and asset managers. Our approach was one of practical consulting; embedding ourselves in the team, learning their roles and challenges, and driving end to end change in a way that visualised the problem and allowed our clients to support and then take over from us.
Working collaboratively with Network Rail, from train dispatch staff at the front line to the CEO in the boardroom, we led a transformation in their thinking behind small minute delays, leading the change with Network Rail, and transformed how stations work to reduce delays. 40% reduction in delays within first month of rolling out changes to stations, giving a better passenger experience and an initial net saving of £7 million over 10 years. In short, we drove an approach focusing on passengers, sensitive to the commercial pressures of a fragmented network, and involving everyone in the benefits value chain, we have helped network rail ‘focus on seconds’ and provided them the knowledge, training, tools and confidence to drive operational excellence every day. The South East route is now amongst the highest performing route in the UK.