Team of consultancies appointed to master-plan Bristol site

01 August 2018

A collection of consulting firms has been drafted in to master-plan the retooling of Bristol’s Temple Quarter. The sector features the Temple Meads railway station, which is one of the last surviving unimproved stations in the country, having been designed and built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel almost 180 years ago.

As a growing population, dwindling global resources and a changing climate lead to mounting problems facing the cities of the future, the urban landscape of tomorrow will require new thinking to maximise quality of life for its inhabitants, and minimise its environmental footprint. The current focus of city planners in this regard is on the built environment, although that change will in part require entrepreneurs to develop innovations of their own, including everything from ‘green walls’ to reduce pollution and offer relaxation, to developing methods of reducing water use, improving mobility and supporting physical well-being.

Changes in line with these changing metropolitan needs of modern cities are being wrought across the UK. The latest of these has seen an alliance of Bristol City Council, Network Rail, Homes England and the West of England Combined Authority have appointed a team of consulting firms to deliver a master-plan for the future of Bristol’s Temple Quarter. The proposed 70 hectare development zone will deliver a new, mixed-use city quarter, featuring up to 11,000 new homes as well as major improvements to the nearby Temple Meads railway station, which is one of the UK’s last surviving unimproved station in Britain, and was designed by celebrated British innovator, engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, before being opened in 1840.

Team of consultancies appointed to master-plan Bristol site

Plans to upgrade the Grade I listed building have long been delayed, with Network Rail having initially announced a ‘vision’ for the station six years ago. The plans, which Network Rail said would transform it into a “world-class railway hub”, was also intended to open up the east side of the station, and bring two unused platforms back into use, but the designs were later shelved after a withdrawal of funding.

The consulting industry team which will now work to design the newly announced facelift includes a number of firms, of all shapes and sizes. Boutiques AWW Architects, Alan Baxter Associates and GVA, Turley, TLT and Pragma are joined by Big Four professional services firm Deloitte, although the project will be led by Mott MacDonald, which will provide multidisciplinary consultancy services including infrastructure master-planning and railway and station enhancements, while the firm's sub-contractor Weston Williamson will oversee architecture and master-planning. The initial phase of work is expected to take around nine months, and will then lead to more detailed development of specific elements of the scheme, subject to funding.

Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees said, “We are currently the only major UK city without a modern railway station. At long last, that is about to change – thanks to the energy and commitment of the partnership we have brought together. A transformed station will finally give us a railway station fit for the 21st century, acting as a gateway to the West of England. The aim is that the redeveloped station will be accessible from the east of Bristol, removing a barrier that has divided the city. It will be connected to the new university enterprise campus and will unlock St Phillips Marsh – soon to become one of the largest regeneration schemes in Europe.”

Related: EY advises University of Bristol financing of real estate debt.


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.