Arcadis supports Sponge City programme in Wuhan, China

18 March 2016

The Wuhan City Water Authority in Central China has appointed Arcadis as the principle consultant for its Sponge City programme pilot. The deal, the value of which has not been disclosed, will see the engineering and consulting firm support the rollout of technologies to funnel excess rain water into functional settings, including irrigation and recharge depleted aquifers.

Wuhan is one of the most ancient civilized metropolitan cities in China, with a history that dates back 3,500 years. The city is the capital of Hubei province and is also the most populous city in Central China. The city, like many of the cities in Central China, faces water challenges with clearing rainwater from its streets. The number of Chinese cities affected by floods has almost doubled since 2008. To deal with flood water related issues, among others, the Wuhan City Water Authority (WCWA) was established in September 2001.

One of the latest initiatives of the WCWA, backed by the Central Government, is the Sponge City programme. The programme is aimed at reducing the risk of flooding and other water related problems within 16 major Central China cities by, among others, funnelling rainwater to irrigate gardens and urban farms. The programme, currently in its pilot phase, saw the 16 cities each provided with £62 million over the coming three years to create ponds, filtration pools and wetlands, as well as the construction of permeable roads and public spaces that allows stormwater to be soaked safely into the ground – potentially recharge depleted aquifers. Through the measures, the organisers hope that up to 60% of rainwater entering the cities will be dealt with independently of the stormwater system.

Arcadis - Sponge City programme in Wuhan

The Sponge City programme will in the coming months be piloted, and to support execution, the WCWA has appointed Arcadis as the principle consultant for the phase. In the role, the international consultancy firm will provide programme management advisory on the Wuhan sponge city programme – Wuhan is one of the first of 16 cities in China to pilot the initiative. The value of the deal has not been disclosed.

WenMei Ha, Head of China Water Management team at Arcadis Asia comments that the firm is “very excited to be part of this pioneer project in Wuhan.” He adds: “Blending green infrastructure with other flooding control measures, the Sponge City programme aims to reduce the economic and environmental damage caused by pluvial flooding in Wuhan and increase life quality for its residents. With our extensive hands-on experience and knowledge of water projects across the globe, we will be able to deliver efficient and sustainable results for the Sponge City projects.”


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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.