The Alliance engaged D2 Rail’s Planning team to coordinate and manage the various survey delivery programmes, which would help to inform the design deliverables across the route. This involved our team of Planners working with multiple supply chain partners to ensure the efficient coordination and progress of surveys.
These works were successful, enabling the TRU West of Leeds design team to progress the development of their proposals through the Governance for Railway Investment Projects (GRIP) process, which is how Network Rail manage and controls all projects that enhance or renew the national rail network.
The West of Leeds route is broken down into various sub-projects, each with its own design team at a different level of design maturity. The design teams provided D2 Rail with a multi-discipline survey scope tailored to their requirements.
Our initial task was to programme the survey scope. Based on the known access for each area, we used the average outputs and resource availability of the site teams for each individual survey type to forecast each site activity to completion. For each survey type there was a requirement for production of a report to communicate data collected on site to the design team, this process was also forecasted upon completion of site works.
A key part of the role was liaising with the supply chain partners delivering the works to support them with planning of site activities and production of reports. The programme was constantly evolving due to the many obstacles that are encountered when delivering work. D2 Rail were on hand to react to change and advise the best-for-programme options so the impact on design deliverables was minimalised.
D2 Rail’s Planning team also tracked the status of survey scope for each sub-project and provided metrics to the wider Alliance, as well as providing forecasts to assist with the bid process to secure the budgets required.
Track access restrictions
The main challenge we encountered was access restrictions. The standard ‘rules of the route’ possessions available on track did not allow us to consistently visit all areas of the route, and most often there was only 4 hours of time on track per shift for the teams to work with. On certain sections, we only had available to us Network Rail maintenance possessions, which were often very limited. We also had a number of branch lines which proved difficult to target.
To best plan for the restricted track access that was available, we had to work very closely with the Transpire access planners. This enabled us to clearly understand what was expected to be available to us throughout the year. We created easy-to-read summary sheets and distributed these out to the supply chain partners, so that they could get ahead with programming their works. We also hosted weekly construction meetings, where we ran through the programme for coming weeks as well as longer term plans for all working parties.
Third party access issues
Aside from track access, we have had major issues accessing 3rd party land to carry out several works across the route. There were instances where 3rd party access had been requested, and then not been granted some 12 months later. The nature of being granted 3rd party access is unpredictable, which meant forecasting 3rd party works within the programme accurately was difficult, and sometime required mobilising site teams on a relatively short notice basis.
In attempt to provide reasonable delivery dates for 3rd party works, D2 Rail took a conservative approach initially in programming the works, in order to manage the expectations of the design team. We liaised with the Network Rail’s integration team regularly, as they are tasked with securing access, which helped us to be able to react quickly to any impending developments with landowners.
High survey volume
Another challenge is the volume of surveys across the route. The programmes were at times very fluid and a challenge to keep up with. There were also various contractors feeding information to our Planning team on a weekly basis, so being organised was the key to keeping on track.
To deal with the volume of surveys involved, we put clear systems in place so that the supply chain partners delivered to us information in a format that was both simplified and satisfied the programme requirements. In addition to the regular construction meeting, we had sessions with the supply chain partners to talk through issues they were encountering and provided regular support with what they were doing to help translate this into successful site delivery.
We also encountered challenges with the changing scope of works, which evolves from the projects’ initial release. Close contact was maintained throughout with the design teams, including regular attendance at meetings, to discuss any problems encountered, any change within the programme and changes to scope.
Providing a clear process and support vehicle to the supply chain partners was vital in order to help coordinate long term planning within the various programmes – helping to supply clear deliverable dates that inform future design.
Close liaison with regards to Third Party access enabled us to avoid as many surprises as possible, giving ourselves the best possible chance to plan in advance of receiving permission to access a certain plot of land. Safety of the staff on site was critical, so detailed planning is a must, and with D2 Rail’s approach we support the safe mobilisation of teams to carry out works and progress the programme in line with the baseline.
A collaborative approach ensures a healthy working relationship, enabling the teams to pull in the same direction towards a common goal. Supply chain partners are key to the Alliance and strong connections have been built. Confident communication of problems encountered, as well as errors made, are displayed allowing early combined efforts to rectify issues in an open and positive manner.
Close contact with the design teams has meant as two separate teams working toward the same objectives, we understand the challenges that each other face. As a result, there are no unreasonable requests coming from either direction. This level of transparency between design and delivery teams ensures everybody is on the same page.
“The two planners from D2 Rail are an integral part of the Survey team. With an understanding of the work content and the constrained timescales, they sensibly apply a logic using historic outputs and access information to provide a robust and reliable programme.
“The Survey team would be lost without D2 Rail providing the guidance and forward planning required to achieve the work. They are not seen as D2 Rail, but as integrated Planners within the Survey team.”
Surveys Project Lead