The challenges of the UK rail industry



The challenges of the UK rail industry, and what RTS Solutions is doing to help


The UK rail industry faces many challenges as technology, customer needs, industry guidelines, and staffing requirements continue to evolve.


Since our inception in 2000, RTS Solutions has worked closely with clients as they modernise their workplace processes and understand the challenges when faced with adapting to new ways of working. However, it may not always be immediately apparent what needs updating and when, especially for those who have always used traditional methods. We’re taking a look at some of the challenges that the industry has faced over the years, and what solutions we’ve developed as a result.


20 years of tackling challenges

As detailed in our introductory blog, RTS Solutions first began tackling issues in the industry over 20 years ago with the formation of the Fault Management Service (FMS). This was designed to improve responses to incidents occurring on the Rail Infrastructure.


The FMS is an adaptable solution that can analyse patterns in fault data to identify and alert to staff any potential hazards in the workplace. It works in real-time and can be viewed from several locations. Additionally, it will alert relevant team members immediately to any faults so that they can react appropriately and promptly. With its detailed reporting capabilities, the FMS can show a full fault management audit so tasks are monitored and the data used to enhance safety protocols on railways.


Meeting guidelines and reducing risk

In 2013, RTS enhanced the Safe System of Work Planning (SSoWP). This was done to help teams meet the industry guidelines for safe planning and reducing the risk of harm in unavoidable hazardous situations. The SSoWP provided staff with the tools to plan multiple work sites and allocate control methods for risks. Not only did this reduce costs, increase efficiency, and enhance safety practices across the industry, but it was also a way for teams to generate Safe Work Packs that were compliant with national safety standards.


Tools to enhance productivity and profitability

Soon after the SSoWP, rail industry clients required an update to their work order management and reporting systems. We were tasked with the job of developing these enhancements productively and profitably, whilst increasing efficiency amongst staff.


These systems needed to offer more value to clients, whilst maintaining and operating frontline teams and reporting on contractual infrastructure compliance. We rose to the challenge and in 2015 began rolling out the Work and Resource Management Systems.


The RTS Work Order Management System has been instrumental in the day-to-day operations of our clients when it comes to helping companies allocate, plan and progress the completion of work items within the rail infrastructure. The RTS Resource Management suite is a multi-function tool that manages employee resources and work order management. Within the suite, managers have access to employee work assignments, employment information, skills, competencies, training, and activities, plus sickness and annual leave. Having access to this information ensures the correct people are being assigned the correct projects to match their skills and availability. This tool will also identify the terms and conditions allocated to each train driver, operator, and technician, and will make sure their time is managed correctly.


Establishing safe, compliant, and productive working environments

Later that same year, our Tier 1 customers required a detailed asset maintenance and management system to be put in place to establish a safe, compliant, and productive working environment.


Historically, staff would go through long-winded processes of signing off on daily tasks plus alerting management to any additional work or issues that arose during shifts. Not only did this waste time and effort to complete but it lacked efficiency when previous information needed to be recalled. The RTS Asset Maintenance Management was soon introduced as a centralised hub for engineers, technicians, managers, and other key industry stakeholders. This solution came with an extensive dashboard that could track a wide variety of components specifically tailored to the role of the user. Features such as asset creation and management, as well as third-party and internal team contact details. It also requires management to sign off on each request to tie it into providing a centralised and digital location for streamlining asset management that was successfully rolled out to Tier 1 clients.


Anytime, anywhere

We’re continuing to develop a Rail Operations Suite SaaS and Mobile Product for clients with the enhanced ability to provide anytime, anywhere accessibility using any device. Due to the demand of shifting work habits, clients can now offer some staff the opportunity to work remotely. These services would need to allow teams to access corporate data and applications from any location at any time using any internet-connected device. The RTS Operations Suite and Mobile product automatically backs-up information and feeds it directly into the planning system allowing businesses to improve how they manage their people across all areas of the railway network.


Throughout our history, we’ve noticed that one of the main challenges that clients are faced with is the costs associated with outdated methods of working as the demand for digital and reactive services increases. These costs are not just monetary but also include resources, staffing, and time. With some businesses being locked into costly legacy systems that sit at the heart of the organisation, it might seem impossible to modernise to fit into the current ways of working. That’s why all of our solutions are tailored to fit each clients’ needs and support the full-lifecycle requirements of railway management, and we’ll continue to react swiftly to each challenge as we have been doing for the past twenty years.


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