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  • Network Rail
Network Rail was under pressure from the regulators and its own customers to overhaul its business and meet their demands. We helped Network Rail meet its own targets and keep up performance, in an award-winning piece of work.

The timetable is the rail industry’s promise to its customers – train companies, freight operators, passengers.  If it’s not right, delay minutes mount up, costing Network Rail considerable sums of money, and rail users inconvenience.

At the beginning of 2011, ‘delay minutes’ resulting from Operational (timetable) Planning were running at a high level, following the introduction of new systems.

When Network Rail asked us to lead the business change elements of a major technology-related programme to address this, our work delivered a significant ongoing reduction in delay minute levels and was awarded Silver by the Learning and Performance Institute as 2012’s ‘Project of the Year’.


Our Solution

While investigating system problems and the way train planners used it, we quantified the impact in terms of time and effort lost.  We translated their concerns around system fragility into one major issue with a commercial implication that required a real business focus.  Our subsequent change management activity included:
  • Organisation design, competency analysis and planning. Coaching the client team
  • Assistance in the set-up, initial facilitation, and execution of Systems Change Board, Process Development Group, and Competency Development Group.  These groups / teams were established to develop and sustain capabilities in people, process and systems change, and have proved key in sustaining change beyond the completion of the TPBD programme
  • Guidance, coaching and ‘hands-on’ delivery related to competencies.  We guided the NR team through the definition of competencies and levels, and created a method to baseline competencies.  We coached the NR team in the creation of a competency-building plan and assisted in its initial execution.
  • Guidance, training and delivery of initial work relating to process change.  We identified key process problem areas, redesigned them (creating process maps and work instructions) and then implemented the changes.  We trained NR personnel in working with processes and worked alongside their early process definition and change work, including the establishment of an overall process framework
  • Engagement support for business initiatives to improve delay minute performance in priority areas such as Bank Holiday weekend processes.  Again, we defined an approach with NR personnel, then supported the implementation of the process by the NR personnel –   so that consistent approaches were introduced, leading to reductions in delay minutes.
  • Facilitation of team sessions to address delay minute performance ‐  team by team
  • An end-to-end training programme designed with the end user in mind
  • A physical  branded learning space called ‘The Exchange’ for planners to engage, learn, share knowledge and best practice
  • Hands-on support to embed learning in the live environment and gather feedback helping deliver continuous improvement
  • A creative communications and engagement campaign to help planners put train performance at the heart of everything they do
  • A standard train planning process, built collaboratively from best practice across all teams
  • A coaching programme for specialist planners leaving behind a legacy of sustainable learning.

Benefits and Outcomes

Value add initiatives
  • Additional work around broader industry process, whereby TOC / NR train planning process bottlenecks were addressed, bringing improvement ahead of systems change
  • Engagement support for the closure of the Leeds Train Planning office (working with those in Leeds, communicating with industry stakeholders, completely reworking the New Starter training), so that the closure of that office in September 2012 went well, with little impact on performance and stakeholders
  • Coaching in business change for Ops Planning leaders
  • Facilitating workshop, strategy, and problem resolution sessions, becoming trusted advisers to the business leaders
  • Supporting, through branding and the creation of a short video documentary, the annual Industry Train Planning Conference


  • Reduction in delays

    Delay minutes were cut from 37,000 in April 2011 to 23,000 in November 2011 – with continuing year on year improvements, resulting in a better passenger experience

  • Keeping regulators happy

    Network Rail can meet their performance targets and receive fewer financial penalties from their regulators

  • Sustainable skills

    All planners were fully trained and supported to use the train planning system

  • Winning awards

    This project took silver at the Learning and Performance Institute Awards for External Project of the year 2012.

Beyond these tangible financial outcomes, Afiniti’s work meant that Ops Planning made foundational changes in its systems, processes and competencies; has the capabilities to sustain and build on these changes; and has clear programmes in training to deliver ongoing change.  Relationships with key stakeholders (other NR functions, TOCs, Regulator) were significantly stronger.

Date: Aug 2012

If you‘d like to know how Afiniti could benefit change within your company, feel free to give us a call on 0845 608 0104