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Network Rail 

Digital Railway Programme

Network Rail’s Digital Railway Programme unites technology and business change stakeholders across the rail sector. 

Our Experience

Network Rail Digital Railway Programme

3 minute read

The challenge

The number of passengers using Britain’s railway has doubled since the mid-1990s. At peak times, the busiest parts of the rail network are already at capacity, and one billion extra journeys are predicted by the mid-2030s is predicted. New capacity is urgently required to meet this continued rise in demand. Conventional ways of increasing capacity, for example by building new railway infrastructure, would be hugely disruptive, very expensive and probably unachievable. 


The adoption of digital technologies alongside targeted conventional interventions is a cost-effective way of releasing significant additional capacity on the existing network. 


A digital railway will benefit passengers, freight services and the national economy. 


Network Rail’s Digital Railway Programme unites technology and business change stakeholders across the rail sector. 

The diverse nature of the programme requires a PMO with strong integrated project controls and reporting capability to set the standard for project delivery to provide visibility of progress. 

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The solution

With a large and varied list of technology and workforce  projects in the Digital Railway Programme, maintaining control of the structure was key. Baselining and maintaining the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) for the programme’s new Control Period provided the control needed to prevent unauthorised change and established an agreed and approved position against which to monitor, report and control. 


Defining and documenting integrated programme controls processes allowed project teams to consistently plan, monitor and report against a baseline of scope, schedule, cost and risk. 


With projects being delivered by a variety of stakeholders, defining and delivering a revised periodic reporting cycle that was consistent across the programme was crucial. 


Equally important was the development and go live of a new reporting solution, which combined source data from the core project management systems into a period-end business intelligence system. 

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To provide enhanced levels of train protection and further reduce the risk of harm to 

passengers and rail workers.

Reduce the number of incidents which cause delays, but the impact of each incident on passengers and freight customers continues to increase.

Digital technologies present the opportunity to improve performance across the network.

Introducing digital technologies

& new ways of working to replace conventional signalling systems at a lower whole life cost.


The impact

The PMO’s work to overhaul and integrate the controls processes and reporting tools drove a series of related improvements across the Digital Railway Programme. A well-controlled WBS created alignment between the PMO and finance teams on reporting data and stopped non-value-adding conversations at review meetings, focusing discussion on programme performance rather than data integrity. 


Project teams received clear, established guidance and training on how to run their projects successfully and in a consistent manner. Reporting deadline compliance improved signifi cantly, with the right people receiving the right information at the right time. 


A standard, digital dashboard format enabled the PMO to distil key messages into executive briefing packs. A stronger focus on performance trends resulted in actions being taken to improve forecasting accuracy. Beyond generating reports, analysis of key performance indicators, trend patterns and emerging themes allowed the PMO, in a position of increased credibility, to add real insight to the leadership Team. 

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