BearingPoint helps Network Rail design fit for purpose organisation

14 February 2019

In order to substantiate its contract to maintain and operate the high-speed line which links London to three European capital cities, UK Network Rail (High Speed) was required to prove to stakeholders that the organisation is ‘fit for purpose’. To do this, the group drafted consultancy BearingPoint to conduct a thorough organisational evaluation and advise Network Rail (High Speed) on reaching that standard.

With the annual Management Consultancies Association Awards fast approaching, BearingPoint was recently recognised for its work with Network Rail (High Speed). The firm received a nomination for the MCA’s Change and Transformation in the Public Sector prize, with the winner to be announced at a gala in London in March.

Network Rail is the owner and infrastructure manager of most of the railway network in Great Britain, and BearingPoint was contracted by its high-speed subsidiary to perform analysis into the organisation’s effectiveness, capabilities and performance. Network Rail (High Speed) is responsible for operating, maintaining and renewing the 109km of high-speed infrastructure from St. Pancras to the Eurotunnel – including three high speed stations – which enables direct international trains to reach Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam from the centre of London.

As Network Rail (High Speed) is required to submit a strategic plan setting out how the infrastructure will be managed efficiently and in accordance with best practice until 2025, the entity was required to prove that the organisation was well-equipped to deliver on its commitments, including having the needed skills and capabilities. This is where BearingPoint came in, with the international consultancy being tapped to help Network Rail (High Speed) discover areas of strength, and those ripe for improvement, before building strategies to address the gaps.

BearingPoint helps Network Rail design fit for purpose organisation

According to David Bergsma, senior manager at BearingPoint, the consultancy first and foremost set out to let the ‘Voice of the Customer’ determine the purpose. He explained, “Our team believed that end users (i.e. contract owner, railway operators and users) would be in the best position to define the right performance and right capabilities. Therefore, BearingPoint held interviews with senior managers from all main clients of Network Rail (High Speed) to understand their expectations, demands, needs and views on current performance of Network Rail High Speed. This produced a long list of needs, wishes and requirements that provided surprising insights for Network Rail (High Speed).”

After a period of consultation, BearingPoint then worked to translate the feedback into a logical structure. This structure consisted of five levels of detail in organisational client requirements for Network Rail (High Speed), clearly outlining what expectations the group would need to meet if it was to continue in its capacity with the high-speed rail line. This tailored framework was then used to assess the performance of the organisation to identify areas for improvement.

Moves to improve

Following the review of the current organisational set up and performance, BearingPoint concluded that they were not optimal in terms of the capabilities required to fulfil the client needs. As a result, the consultancy agreed to design principles with Network Rail (High Speed) that the entity could then use for guidance when drawing up designs to build an organisational structure that was fit for purpose.  

Anthony Barnes, Head of Business Programmes at Network Rail (High Speed) and sponsor of the BearingPoint work, elaborated, “Based on the analysis, design principles and experience with similar organisations, BearingPoint created a capabilities model. For each of the capabilities in this model, the organisation would require processes, skilled staff in defined roles, supported by necessary technology.”

BearingPoint also reviewed the relevance of all internal roles to define the necessary number of full-time employees required. These analyses helped to validate and advise the required headcount for the organisation going forward.

Commenting on the importance of the work the firm completed, Anthony concluded, “Network Rail (High Speed) used the full output of the engagement as the vision for their new organisation for the 2020-2025+ control period. BearingPoint was able to demonstrate the monetary value of the advice with a positive ROI and measurable financial benefits. With this project, BearingPoint exceeded the customer’s expectations in terms of quality and comprehensiveness.”


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.