The issue and importance of possession planning on the rail network will be highlighted even more in the coming months and years, as investment to upgrade the railways continues at pace.
Network Rail has already released its Strategic Business Plan for Control Period 6 (CP6), which will see record investment of almost £50 billion to upgrade track, signalling and other systems.
If the upgrades are to be successfully implemented, it is vital that Network Rail carry out work efficiently.
This is where the key role of possession planning is highlighted.
Companies that specialise in this work form partnerships with Network Rail and its clients in order to achieve maximum productivity of all jobs on the railways.
If there is a blockage on the line because of an accident, an obstruction, or any other impediment to developments or the safe and efficient running of trains, these organisations spring into action to take control of the line and help to resolve any issue.
It is a high pressure function, without which, the railways wouldn’t be able to run efficiently.
Those who specialise in possession planning are able to provide a bespoke service to help Network Rail’s projects run on time and within budgets. An extensive knowledge of the network helps this process.
Network Rail and its clients are kept updated each week about their work sites, the progress, any stoppages and how they are resolved, thanks to these experts in possession planning.
Its very function was highlighted recently because of delays to rail improvements on rail in South Cumbria.
Network Rail had to apologise for the delays but acknowledged that, to get the resources on the railway so projects can be delivered, “we have to take more possession on the line.”
Possession planners will work with all site agents, framework managers to plan a safe system of work, put in requests for closures where necessary, report on possession performance utilisation, and maintain a possession schedule.
This level of detail results in an optimised work programme.