National charity CTA launches tender for consultant in Wales

29 January 2019

The Community Transport Association (CTA) has launched a tender process with the aim of finding a consultant capable of helping the charity’s Welsh division understand how it can effectively and accurately measure its impact to society. 

In all parts of the UK, on every day of the year, thousands of community transport staff and volunteers help people to stay independent, participate in their communities and access vital public services and employment. Using everything from minibuses to mopeds, typical services include voluntary car schemes, community bus services, school transport, hospital transport, dial a ride, wheels to work and group hire services. Most are demand responsive, taking people from door to door, but a growing number are scheduled services along fixed routes where conventional bus services aren’t available.

Representing and supporting providers of community transport charities and community groups across the UK is the Community Transport Association. The charity association's mission is to enable accessible and inclusive transport in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

In Wales, approximately 2,000 volunteers provide community services, serving an estimated 140,000 individuals registered to use community transport services. CTA operates across the whole of the country, supporting its 94 member organisations to address the challenges of rurality, social isolation, sparsity and an ageing population, local health, funding, accessibility, and equality of opportunity. “We help our members to remain relevant and responsive to key areas of public policy and to make a big difference for the people and families in the communities they work in,” explained Christine Boston, CTA’s Director for Wales.

National charity CTA launches tender for consultant in Wales

Value to society?

Now, in a bid to understand CTA’s contribution to society, the charity organisation has launched a programme to understand which avenues there are for it to measure its impact. Commenting on the importance of the exercise, Boston said “Being able to show the unique difference you make and how this compares to alternatives is a fundamental building block for future success and sustainability for any charity or community group, including community transport operators. It can capture the attention of policy-makers, commissioners and funders and helps organisations internally to know they are doing the right things and doing them well.”

“Although support and resources to help organisations capture and communicate their impact are already in plentiful supply, our sense is that nothing has yet broken through as the go-to resource for community transport operators and their local commissioners. The aim of this project is to create a better understanding of all the possible ways of capturing impact.” 

To support the project, CTA is seeking an external consultant with expertise in the matter. The consultant will be tasked with drafting a report that outlines an overview of frameworks for measuring social impact, with a focus on evidencing the impact of activities that reduce social isolation and loneliness and enable people to be active and live independently. The analysis will also have to look at how the work of community transport relates to the Well-being of Future Generations Act.

With the project’s outcome, CTA expects to determine how it can best frame and assess its social impact going forward. “A common framework for this would also mean we can still create that national perspective to demonstrate and celebrate the achievements of our sector and how they contribute to important policy agendas,” remarked Boston.

Consultants are invited by CTA to submit their proposal by Friday the 8th of February to Kira Cox, Business Development Executive at CTA. Consultants selected will be invited for an interview. The total budget for this phase of the project, which is planned to kick-off on the 25th of February, is £10,000 inclusive of VAT and expenses. For more information, see the tender invitation on the website of CTA.

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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.