Royal HaskoningDHV and Deltares support Canal del Dique reopening

21 December 2016

The Canal del Dique, Columbia, has a more than 400 year history, a large part of which saw it being impassable. In a new effort to revitalise the regional economy, as well as reduce regional flooding risks to more than 1.5 million people, the Columbian Government called in Dutch water experts, Royal HaskoningDHV and Deltares, to develop plans to reconstruct the canal. The project is set to be delivered by 2017.

The Canal del Dique connects Cartagena Bay to the Magdalena Rive, in Columbia. The canal, which was first dug in 1582, extended for 118 kilometres In the intervening centuries. However, the canal met with mixed fortunes; initially falling into disrepair, before new life was breathed into the project in 1650 when it was rebuilt. By the end of the 18th century, however, the canal became impassable. The 20th century saw a number of efforts to revitalise the canal; yet sedimentation of the Magdalena River has continued to negatively affect the passability of the canal as well as affecting regional flooding patterns.

In a bid to improve regional economic prosperity, as well as reduce the risk of flooding in the region – in 2010 La Niña floods killed over 174 people and left thousands homeless – the Government of Columbia drew up plans to revitalise the Canal del Dique.

Royal HaskoningDHV supports reopening of Canal del Dique

To deliver the project, Royal HaskoningDHV, Dutch knowledge institute Deltares and local construction firm Gómez Cajiao were hired by the Government to reconstruct the canal. Royal HaskoningDHV led studies and developed a re-design of the canal, which includes the restructuring of dikes, new locks and marsh improvements.

Through the improvements the local economy will be stimulated by allowing ships to move freely through the canal, as well as limit the future risks of sediment impeding passage. The shipping route is extremely important for the well-being of the local economy, and ships using the canal route will now see locks and regulating installations, which is a first for Colombia", comments Eric Brasser, Senior Project Manager at Royal HaskoningDHV.

As part of the project, which is currently scheduled to be completed in 2017, he engineering and consulting firm also worked to restore and preserve ecological areas that surround the canal – which cuts through marshes and wetlands. The scheme also creates a number of barriers that are designed to better control water resources in the area, including reducing the risk of flooding for more than 1.5 million people.

Our ultimate objective on the project is to reduce flooding in the area. We were faced with some significant challenges including poor seismic and soil conditions, as well as a short time schedule due to the importance of having this project up and running to improve flood resilience", remarks Brasser.


How data insights helped Network Rail improve the South-East route

11 April 2019

Amey Consulting has leveraged data insights to assist Network Rail with the improvement of its South-Eastern route. Using the Quartz tool, which monitors train movement, Network Rail will now be able to commit to data-enabled interventions to quickly improve underperforming train stations.

With rail services in the UK coming under strain from the demands of modern commuter life, while the infrastructure and service delivery of the nation’s railways has come in for sustained criticism in recent years, a period of regeneration is on the cards at last. Network Rail is the owner and infrastructure manager of most of the railway network in Great Britain, and has subsequently tapped the consulting industry on a regular basis to help find areas of improvement.

The group recently drafted in consultancy BearingPoint to conduct a thorough organisational evaluation and advise Network Rail (High Speed) on attaining a ‘fit for purpose’ organisational standard – for which the consultancy was nominated at the 2019 MCA Awards. Meanwhile, ArupArcadis and Aecom have been contracted to help Colas Rail and Babcock Rail implement a decade-long framework for Network Rail, aimed at supporting the delivery of the next generation of rail systems, with the contracts said to be worth as much as £5 billion

How data insights helped Network Rail improve the South-East route

As Network Rail further aims to improve its performance and customer service offering, another area it has sought help from the consulting sector for is its South-East route. The network of railways connects London with the southern parts of the country, as well as with Europe, making it the busiest in the country, with more than 500 million passenger journeys per year. This crucial expanse of rail was plagued with small minute delays, which were impacting millions of passengers every day, while reducing the efficiency and capacity of the overall network – something Amey Consulting was selected to help solve.

Amey Consulting soon determined that with the sub-threshold delays to services only lasting for 1 or 2 minutes, most were not the subject of detailed root cause analysis, and this made their corrections almost impossible – with dire consequences. Without addressing these delays, passenger satisfaction would fall, while the capacity and efficiency of the network would be reduced, stinging the income of Network Rail even before a host of delay-related fines would hit the company.

In order to help the client gain a better understanding of where, how, when and what these small delays occur, Amey Consulting looked to demonstrate the value of data-led consulting, with a significant reduction in delays within the first month of rolling out changes to key stations. The consultants embedded themselves in Network Rail’s team, helping them learn the key skills needed to support and apply data-driven solutions.

Agile transport

This involved the deployment of the Quartz tool. The system utilises to-the-second train movement data to present the performance of individual stations across the South-East route. It allows users to effortlessly understand station performance with a high level of detail, and use this information to identify losses caused by small-minute delays. The granular data allows for targeted actions to drive efficiency savings and performance improvements. More importantly, it allows users to understand the impact of small process changes on performance. 

Steve Dyke, an Executive Partner at Amey Consulting, said of the project, “We looked to identify the physical root cause on the infrastructure, building a case for change then managing that project implementation and tracking the benefit/value.  In doing so we are working to define a data performance improvement service to the operational and infrastructure owners.”

Just as important for the project as the technology, however, was teaching the Network Rail team how to leverage it after the consultants were gone. The Amey Consulting team worked to develop an agile working culture within Network Rail’s South-East division, helping staff to be confident in using data to improve the journeys of millions of people per year by attacking the problem from the ground up.

Dyke concluded, “This is less about the tools and about the approach to managing performance.  It meant using by-the-second analysis, data science, and then agile development to visualise and identify areas where improvements can be made.  We then worked with NR to change the way they approached the management of the infrastructure changes.  So rather than pass the information down the value chain, any of which could have been missed, we managed the change end-to-end.”

The project was so successful that Amey Consulting was also among those honoured at the recent MCA Awards. The firm scooped the Performance Improvement in the Public Sector prize for its work with Network Rail, at the 2019 ceremony in London.