Inbox – October-November 2015
Source: Martin Young
Subject: Network Rail, ORR and DfT bosses to be ‘held to account’ in CP5 inquiry
In light of the ORR letter to NR dated 6 August 2015, re: Possible breach of condition 1 of NR’s network licence with regard to its delivery of its enhancement programmes.
The letter states that there are 13 identified weaknesses in the way NR delivers its projects, caused by systemic failure.
I have been involved with implementing Systems Engineering – Requirements Management and Systems Integration and can only say that in my experience NR are sending out unclear signals as to the value of implementing a robust Systems Engineering management structure throughout all of its projects. If NR cannot get its act together and ensure that Systems Engineering is mandated then the existing problems will continue.
In my experience, I think that the NR L2 Engineering Management for Projects NR/L2/INI/020009 Issue 6 does not make it clear to PMs and CEMs that it is their responsibility to ensure that the project technical and operational requirements are comprehensively reviewed (front-end definition) to set a robust baseline (Glass Case), and then ensure that the design and installation teams are providing accurate verification and validation evidence throughout the GRIP stages in accordance with BS EN 50126.
Systems Engineering has not just been ‘'dreamed up’ to put increased costs and workload on PM staff, as many think. However, its concepts and potential benefits are still relatively unknown within the rail industry. It stops the 'we always do it this way' attitude by making people think consciously and challenge what they and others are doing.
So, NR; I say that it is time for you to ‘practice what you preach’ by ensuring that Systems Engineering is mandated for all new projects so that proper project costing and scope can be discussed and agreed early on with your contractors to the benefit of all parties.
Subject: Midland Main Line electrification unpaused
This is good news. It underlines that electrification is a good thing. However, I believe it also underlines the importance of not squeezing very large infrastructure programmes into five year CP settlements. Whilst good for ongoing maintenance and renewal works, five-year plans really don't work with enhancement programmes. These need two things to happen: 1) appropriate programmes for the scale, risk and invasiveness of the programme; and 2) much better programme management and integration between NR Infrastructure Projects, NR ops, TOCs and everyone else contributing to the outputs of the programmes.
Subject: Much-delayed Ordsall Chord legal challenge dismissed by judge
While looking forward to provision of this link, I feel the wrong decision has been taken as Mr Whitby's 'Option 15' appeared much more sympathetic to the existing historic environment.
If and when NR's proposal is built, it will leave a scar on the locality and I believe we and future generations will live to regret not taking more care of this piece of local heritage.
Subject: Waterloo upgrades ‘vital’ and needed now – London TravelWatch
Perhaps just as important, if not more so, is the work required to improve the reliability and capacity of the signalling system at the top end of the SWML.
There are constantly delays attributed to signalling problems anywhere between Wimbledon and Waterloo, but the planned replacement of the system was scheduled for the early 2020s. Given the lack of skilled resources in this discipline, it is questionable whether NR will be able to keep to this timetable.
Instead, the signalling changes will be a patch-work of infill/modify just as is proposed for this work. What is the likelihood of this upgrade running smoothly, and what will the reliability of the line in the vicinity of Waterloo up to the completion of the signalling renewal? Very unlikely I think.