Evaluation of the rail engineering socio-technical system to promote structured continuous improvement in safety and performance

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Michelle Nolan-McSweeney, Network Rail

Network Rail is a large rail engineering organisation sitting within a complex industrial landscape which includes UK, European and devolved government bodies; regulators; train and freight operators; manufacturers; suppliers; trade unions; trade associations; safety bodies; passengers and passenger bodies. Furthermore, Network Rail – given the geographical and functional breadth of its operations – is a complicated organisation, with many different departments. The success (or otherwise) of Network Rail to deliver structured continuous improvement in safety and performance depends on its ability to manage the various interactions effectively – the socio and technical aspects – both internally, and across the wider rail industry. This needs to be achieved from a position where performance (safety and operationally) still falls short of the organisation’s ambitions.

This paper describes the challenges the organisation is facing, including: doubling passenger numbers in the next 25 years; technological transformation to meet the huge increase in demand (the Digital Railway); multiple objectives of safety, production and performance; and a business imperative to rationalise the many hundreds of Standards to provide simple, clear accountabilities for individuals working for Network Rail.

Date & time

7-8 June 2016

NCTL Learning and Conference Centre, Nottingham

What is a Complex System?

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