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Webinar recap: Network Rail Consulting’s success with collaborative working on Sydney rail upgrade

ICW Australia was delighted to host Network Rail Consulting on 9 December 2021 as our first ever guest webinar presenters. During the webinar, they shared their experience of collaborative working across a range of disciplines and agencies to deliver an exceptional result in a complex transit project.


This great work by Network Rail Consulting has been recognized globally, and they have won the Institute for Collaborative Working 2021 Collaborative Working Awards, sponsored by BSI – congratulations to the team! This is the first ever award for an Australian project, and shows the growth of collaborative working as a game changer in Australian business.


Our speakers were Derek Frend, Director, Systems Integration; Helen Benson, Associate Director, Project & Program Management; and Jon Hayes, Programme Engineering Manager – all of whom were involved in delivering the seamless digital transformation of Sydney’s rail network, that involved, that involved:

  • Replacing Traditional Trackside Signalling Equipment with the latest ‘in cab’ train control technology (European Train Control System Level 2).

  • Implementing Automatic Train Operation, which assists drivers who remain in control – to provide reduced and more consistent journey times.

  • Introducing a Traffic Management System (TMS) to help the railway recover from any disruption quickly and manage the overall network as effectively as possible.

Over the course of the presentation, the team gave a holistic view of how they collaborated, both professionally and the personal touch as well.


Derek explained that the client knew they wanted to collaborate better with industry as part of the delivery and navigate the complexity that way but was unsure how – which is where Network Rail Consulting’s (NRC) experience came in. The upgrade of the signalling system involved a lot of industry partners in a complex contract environment, with the contract structure staggered over the course of 12 months. They created a process for collaboration that went beyond the challenges created by COVID lockdowns, and the fact that everyone was working from home.


The work was spread across international suppliers, as a transformation project in a complex technological and operational environment. NRC worked as a systems integrator to ensure interoperability between suppliers – which came from 17 major organisations in 8 different countries. NRC worked with these multiple teams to ensure they delivered on time and on budget – managing relationships and using specialist forums for clients and stakeholders, ensuring that issues were managed early and the environment continued to be collaborative.


Jon mentioned that a lack of integration is a key risk, and their way of mitigating it was to include an Integrated Preliminary Design Phase (IPDP). This phase succeeded in its intention to reach mutual understanding of program needs. This phase was introduced as workshops over the course of several weeks, and allowed the different suppliers and clients to simplify the way issues were managed and decide how to collaboratively deal with them. This process led to 92% agreement of 389 topics (see slide below) and kept delivery on schedule.


Helen detailed how NRC developed shared program principles to give all the teams a common ethos and worked to build collaborative behaviours and culture through social events (pre-COVID) and wellbeing activities to increase morale and manage issues like fatigue. The use of shared values built a culture that was safety conscious and people focused, as well as collaborative.


The project was completed on time and on budget – and to watch the webinar in full, check out the recording now available on our website. ICW Australia will also be developing this collaborative working example into a detailed case study for our members to access as a resource - so watch this space!


This is the first of many webinars that ICW Australia will be running to showcase the great work done by teams in a range of specialisations, applying the business discipline of collaborative working. We will be running regular webinars in 2022 – so to get updates on our events, email enquiries@icwaus.com.au to join our mailing list, and follow us in LinkedIn.

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