Blog - Forging a Template for the Future of Rail | Samuel Knight
Mar 30, 2022 Rail

Forging a Template for the Future of Rail

The government’s new vision for rail travel in the UK will see the introduction of Great British Railways (GBR), which is prompting the UK’s rail sector to re-assess unchallenged norms within the industry, including how train operating companies and Network Rail work together.

The planned revamp of one depot in particular, Leeds’ historic Neville Hill TrainCare Centre, is being called a potential template for the rail sector’s future. External consultants Indicatura are working together with Neville Hill’s current train operating company (TOC) – Northern Trains – and its owners Network Rail to create a new asset maintenance and management strategy that is estimated to save more than 20% of maintenance and renewals expenditure.

When train operating companies – with their own separate maintenance and renewals budgets – are able to link up with Network Rail’s maintenance budgets, it becomes much easier to coordinate how both budgets are being spent, which leads to more efficient working.

In the past, overspend and oversights leading to greater long-term spend have sometimes made it difficult for train operating companies and Network Rail to view things holistically. Now, Northern Trains and Network Rail plan to adopt Indicatura’s signature approach to Whole Life Value – optimising the performance and cost of an asset over its complete lifetime.

As external consultants for businesses around the world look to maximise value – through more returns, better productivity, greater efficiency and more – Indicatura are well-acquainted with creating optimised new strategies. Yet, Indicatura are new to the rail sector and according to Indicatura’s Managing Director, Ian Kennedy, this outside perspective is precisely why Indicatura was chosen to lead the project.

“The rail sector is currently looking to overturn a status quo which has existed for decades,” says Ian Kennedy, “and to do that, it needs a fresh pair of eyes. Indicatura is no stranger to the challenges that come with huge overhauls in asset and maintenance strategies, but as newcomers to the rail sector itself, we are able to bring fresh perspectives for value from other sectors.”

At present, Indicatura estimate that 20% of Network Rail’s current renewals and maintenance budget will be saved by the new template – while also reducing carbon emissions and improving Neville Hill TrainCare Centre’s sustainability practices. The Northern Trains team, closely supported by Indicatura, have also begun aligning operations with ISO 55000, an international standard covering best practice in asset management, and ISO 44000, which covers collaborative business relationships.

“The entire Northern Trains team has come together to make these changes happen,” says Northern Trains’ Head of Business Excellence Philip Hassall. “We are working closely with Network Rail and Indicatura to create a template for change that will benefit not just Neville Hill TrainCare Centre, but railway depots all over the UK.”

According to Network Rail project sponsor Mark Bloor, “This is an opportunity for real change at Neville Hill TrainCare Centre – and a chance for us to strengthen our growing partnership with Northern. Working together means that we can get the most out of our resources and deliver the best service we can for passengers and our workers.”

As the rail sector prepares itself for the introduction of Great British Railways, high hopes rest on the Neville Hill transformation. With plans for final implementation by the end of 2022, Neville Hill TrainCare Centre marks the first bold new step in changes to the way the sector works. Trailblazing a holistic new approach to depot maintenance, the changes on the horizon will benefit not only train operating companies and railway network managers – but ultimately, passengers and taxpayers too.

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