Operating strategy

Over the next 15 years the operating strategy will transform how we operate the railway. It will:

  • reduce the number of signalling locations from c.800 signal boxes to 12 Rail Operating Centres (ROCs)
  • bring in new Traffic Management (TM) technology, processes and operational roles that best utilise the new system
  • migrate electrical control from 13 locations into 8 of the ROCs and introduce a standardised national Supervsory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) based system.

Operating strategy

Increasing levels of demand are being placed on NR’s infrastructure; at the same time, we are also facing increasingly tough targets for performance and financial savings.

The operating strategy will allow us to reduce our frontline operations workforce from 5,600 to fewer than 1,500 and deliver significant savings in operating costs (£250 million a year when fully implemented).

Reactionary delay counts for 60% of all delay. Better technology helps our people reduce delays and quickly get services back-up and running after disruption. At the same time we are changing our front line roles and processes to get the best out of the new technology which presents a significant industrial relations issue.

A new national SCADA system for electrical control will replace aging assets and a variety of ways of working with one modern system and a consistent approach to operating it.

Operating strategy

We have considerable experience in a number of different areas, including:

  • business case development: we use UK best practice to create detailed business cases for strategic projects
  • business change: we can offer advice on how to approach the challenging issue of headcount reduction on a large scale, both at a local and national level
  • benefits realisation: identifying and tracking savings across the network as the strategy progresses
  • development of resilient operational buildings to house vital staff and equipment
  • supplier engagement: looking at the best systems in the world and how they have been delivered, we developed a rigorous selection process and we have entered into a successful collaborative relationship with three major suppliers for the development and deployment of traffic management technology
  • benchmarking of other administrations shows that once the Operating Strategy is complete it will put the UK rail network at the same level as the best in Europe.
  • Past
    • development of strategy – assessment of options, international benchmarking, identification of benefits, industry engagement and stakeholder buy-in
    • subsequent carefully managed launch of strategy, detailed development of different strategic elements and initial implementation (ROC builds).
  • Present 
    • six new-build, highly resilient, highly efficient, environmentally friendly ROCs in development
    • three traffic management prototypes developed by suppliers available for testing and evaluation prior to contract award for initial roll-out (‘First Deployment’) of traffic management
    • working closely with the relevant parts of the business to develop strategies to support first deployment.
    • tender for the SCADA electrical control project (which will see a national standardised electrical control system operated from the ROCs) due to be let in July 2013
    • trials of supporting technology, such as Automatic Route Setting plus (ARS+), Manually Controlled Barrier Crossing with Obstacle Detection (MCB-OD) level crossings and Modular Signalling technology are ongoing, with lessons learnt being collated prior to further schemes being rolled out across the network
    • engaging closely and successfully with the unions on issues such as relocation, training and desk layouts.