Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) owns and operates a large proportion of the Swiss regular-gauge rail network. SBB’s Infrastructure Division is the designated body for developing, maintaining and operating all elements of the relevant assets. Stretching over 3,200 kilometres (2000 miles), the network is of modest size. By contrast, the number of trains it accommodates day after day is truly remarkable. More than 30 train operating companies (TOC) run over 10,600 trains each regular weekday. This level of saturation is one of the highest among main-line railways. Adding to the complexity of handling and managing such an intense density of traffic is the fact that in Switzerland there are almost no separate lines for the various types of trains. Intercity trains share the tracks with freight and commuter vehicles. On top of that, the country’s geographical location in the mountainous Alpine region between Europe’s northern ports and the gateways to the Mediterranean Sea creates complex bottleneck situations with vast amounts of international freight traffic. Widely renowned for its outstanding track record in punctuality, these facts prove that, at SBB, we have in-depth expertise in managing complex traffic situations to a very high standard.
To get where we are today, SBB Infrastructure’s Operations department has had to draft and write many chapters of a very complex story, with many more yet to come. By doing this, we have gained in stature and knowledge. One of the key lessons we have learned is that developing railway operations means developing processes, developing governance and mindsets, and – above all – developing people. And then it is a matter of choosing suitable technical solutions to support these developments and unlock their full potential.
We are well aware of the fact that, when it comes to railways, there can never be a copy-and-paste solution.
But no matter what point your organisation is currently at in the field of railway operations and traffic management, we are here to help you to write your own success story.
Chapters we help you write.
Clearing the mist – where are we on the map?
Your organisation has concluded that modernising the way you organise and guide traffic on your network would be a positive move. Prior to formulating a vision and using this to derive an operational strategy, it is crucial to understand the various aspects of your current situation in terms of traffic management. We know the important and sometimes even painful questions this involves and we help you to formulate a precise description of the status quo. We guide the spotlight towards the shadier corners, the less-apparent stakeholders or the long-forgotten interfaces. We make sure that your opening chapter is precise, sharp and a valuable guide and map for staff at all levels of responsibility so that you can take your operational story to new horizons. No journey is possible without a map, or a starting point.
Vision – strategy and gaps.
Your organisation has carried out a thorough analysis of your current operational situation. Your starting point on the map is well-defined and agreed. You are now about to formulate a vision and a strategy. We know how much the degree of uncertainty increases with every mile between your current position on the map and your strategic goal. We make sure that there are no well-hidden canyons to surprise you on your journey towards your seemingly reachable destination. If you do decide to take up the challenge of overcoming such an obstacle, we will be there to outline and sometimes even supply the skills required. First and foremost, though, we will make it very clear what the true costs of such an adventure are likely to be. Whatever conclusion you reach, with our help it will be a well-informed and well-advised one. This is a crucial chapter. It sets the tone for the whole story to come.
The right size – the right furniture.
Your organisation has carried out a thorough analysis of your current operational situation. You are well on the way to reaching the position outlined in your strategy. Now is the time when crucial decisions need to be made:
“How will we include those who need to join in from the side-lines? How can we make sure as few as possible get lost on the way? How many buildings and branches do we need? Where exactly will we put them? How do we calculate individual workloads in the new structure? How exactly do we define the roles and how do we re-distribute and allocate responsibility? What do people need to know? Will they ultimately join in or leave us?”
We speak the language of those who will be called on to deliver once the new organisation is operational. We speak the language of those who need to provide buildings, tools, systems, processes and change. And we speak the language of those who have to rely on the experts while shouldering the responsibilities of a top position in the management organisation. We are the sober calculators, the bridge-builders and the first response unit in this often bumpy and stormy part of the story.
Delivering performance and preparing the sequel.
Your organisation has mastered an impressive journey. You have transformed your structure and processes. You have integrated modern systems and perhaps relocated. Your network is now steered and controlled from modern and centralised sites. While many feel that now is the time to rest and settle down, figures and analyses show that the transformation has not yet reached its full potential. Too many old habits and procedures have survived the process of change, though this is not necessarily a bad thing. It may be helpful for making the workforce feel at home away from home in the beginning.
We help you to create a sequel to what is already a great success story. Bringing the new environment, the new team and the new platform to life is absolutely crucial at this stage. We make sure that your organisation is not turning a short rest into a permanent stop. There are many ways to overcome this critical moment after a phase of major investment and changes. Let us help you find the best way for your operations team to gear up again after a thoroughly deserved milestone break. Your story has only just begun.