Transpennine Route Upgrade, West of Leeds Project W4, Entry into Service Package F


Spanning 76 miles between Manchester, Leeds, York, Selby and onward to Humberside, the Transpennine Route Upgrade (TRU) is a £multi-billion-pound railway investment programme that aims to transform journeys for passengers.

TRU consists of three programmes: TRU West, Leeds Central and TRU East. The TRU West Alliance, are responsible for delivering the improvements between Manchester and Leeds, and is formed of Network Rail, Amey, Arup, BAM, Siemens and an ecosystem of 15 key supply chain partners, which includes D2 Rail. Project W4 between Dewsbury and Copley Hill comprises two distinct phases.

Phase 1 – Capacity increases including signalling recontrol via York Route Operating Centre, a new crossover at Batley, Morley Station relocation, local track renewals, and level crossing enhancements.

Phase 2 – Track and tunnel improvements to enable electrification.

The Key Challenge

The ultimate objective was to deliver Phase 1 using a mixture of Rules of the Route (RoTR) and Disruptive access including two 9-day Dewsbury to Leeds blockades between Autumn 2022 and Summer 2023.

Our Approach

To support the design and delivery of the project within railway access available, we selected experienced in-house programme management experts with a holistic understanding of how to deliver major infrastructure projects due to their extensive experience of the railway industry processes and stakeholders.

Our personnel, accounted for over 60% of the W4 Phase 1 Integration Team including a Senior Project Manager, Scheme Project Manager, Project Management Assistant, Construction Assurance Manager, and a Utilities Manager.

Benefits Realised

  • Excellent Stakeholder Management – We proactively engaged key stakeholders to bring everyone on the journey and maximise support for the works. Our robust external stakeholder analysis led to our production of periodic leaflets for lineside neighbours and targeted community events that afforded opportunities for the public to meet the team to find out more about the project.
  • Efficient Asset Management Plan (AMP) production– Collaborating, as a Single Point of Contact, with Network Rail’s Maintenance Teams, we produced the AMP well in advance of the blockade, holding regular Maintenance and Construction Team reviews to track the status of each discipline.
  • Delivering Work within Possessions (DWWP) assurance – By engaging with multiple parties/interfacing projects we ensured that deconfliction and all other prerequisites were completed prior to the commissioning blockade.
  • Entry Into Operational Service (EiS) – We used Power Bi to innovatively support the visualisation and decision making of key pre-blockade documentation or post commissioning requirements. PowerBi supported our EiS reviews, updates, and reporting.
  • Successful Commissioning – We supported right-first-time delivery and hand-back for a major signalling commission (9-day signalling recontroling), crossover commissioning, a new footbridge opened for use, track realignment, and new platforms at Morley Station entering into service in Summer 2023.

Why D2?

We have developed a strong industry-wide reputation for deploying experienced, multi-disciplined project management staff at every level. Our people adopt a holistic approach to collaboration, using client and supply chain experiences to successfully deliver major projects. Beyond this, we have a capability to deploy staff who can support complex major programmes, adding value by enabling us to seamlessly manage risk. These capabilities include planning and programme controls and reporting, risk management, common safety method, network operations, driver training, utilities management, and construction and engineering assurance management.

Challenges and Solutions

The very short timescale between our assignment to the project and the disruptive possessions and blockades meant that our project management team needed to quickly establish the DWWP operational readiness framework that would optimise the efficient use of possession time. We balanced this work against the risks associated with overrunning (not least of which were potential impacts on both the travelling public and freight movements). Leading the DWWP process we chaired Readiness Reviews from T-52 to T+4 weeks for multiple possessions and the 9-day blockade. In parallel with the Readiness Reviews, we chaired weekly reviews with discipline engineers and specialists to clearly communicate the data outputs to the Senior Leadership Team and peer reviewers.

Stakeholder Engagement and Management was critical to the success of the project. Prior to the blockade we attended Industry Readiness Reviews to collectively engage Network Operations and Maintenance teams and Train and Freight Operators. The reviews helped coordinate wider rail network activities during possessions. Working with the Design, Construction and Consents Teams we also gained local authority planning approvals and organised street works notices.

Collaborating with the wider W4 Project Team we assessed the works planned for the possessions, tracked the evolution of these activities, and led deconfliction workshops to support the Principal Contractor. Throughout this time, we positively challenged all parties planning to work within the possessions, to ensure all precursors were in place before works began at worksite and possession levels. We led Quantitative Schedule Risk Assessments (QSRA) on the hour-by-hour blockade schedule to identify and manage the risk of possession overrun, reporting status updates to Alliance and Network Rail senior managers.

To support communication, we produced critical Blockade Management Plans and Contingency Plans which provided the Construction Teams, Network Rail Operations and Maintenance with a single suite of reference documents covering the possessions and blockade.

In advance of the blockade, we established an EiS Control Room in Batley, integrating scheduled programme milestones with the in-person application and sign off of acceptance forms – centralising documentation storage and control. We also formed and managed the mission control team (MCT – also based in Batley) that tracked, reviewed, and updated the schedule in real time against planned and completed activities and decision points. The MCT produced 4-hourly reports to the Alliance at Silver and Bronze command levels and chaired daily industry conference calls and 12-hourly Alliance calls. During the blockade our project management team and Construction Assurance Manager arranged onsite AMP reviews to enable staged asset handover to the Route Asset Management or Maintenance Team. This smoothed the commissioning process and the hand-back of assets. This all culminated in being able to hand back all of our possessions and blockades on time with no delays.

The 9-Day blockade was split into two stages. The Batley crossover and demolition of an overbridge (within the interfacing Project W3 footprint) took place in the first 53 hours. After this the possession limits were reduced to allow trains to run into Batley Station and turn back.  The second stage accommodated the signalling recontrol saw, the footbridge opening, temporary level crossing closure, and platform demolition, drainage and track renewal/realignment, and new platform commissioning at Morley Station.

We produced the Project Authorisation Strategy defining requirements for Authorisation or Intermediate Statement of Verification under the Railway Interoperability Regulations in line with the Common Safety Method.  This allowed the project to evidence the following deliverables under the EiS checklist: Engineering Deliverables & Compliance Certificates, TSI-specific evidence, Maintenance/ TOC consultation where necessary, Safety Assessment Report, Declaration of Control of Risk, Interim Statement of Verification and Authorisation. This information was all required to support commissioning of the completed assets.

Working with Network Rail’s Communications and Community Relations Team we planned and issued periodic leaflet drops to lineside neighbours and held community events where members of the public could meet the project team to find out more and share any concerns. As the various assets became operational, we maintained an onsite presence to assist members of the public. We were also responsible for arranging VIP visits to the site by the Department for Transport or Industry stakeholders.

SAS 13 Bridge Reconstruction


Part of the On Network Works Programme (required to facilitate HS2 construction in Birmingham), SAS 13 was a £52M complex multidisciplinary bridge reconstruction project with HS2 as the Client. Managed by Network Rail, Skanska was the civils delivery partner with the Central Rail Systems Alliance (CRSA) delivering the rail systems scope.

The key challenges

The main on-site construction was planned to take place within a 23-day blockade, with several weekends of preparatory works prior to the main blockade. Eight weeks from the start of these works, Network Rail identified a shortfall in their Project Management resources, leaving question marks over the planning and execution of the delivery assurance processes.

Having worked with D2 personnel previously, Skanska, introduced us to Network Rail to help provide experienced project management resources with the knowledge and track-record of delivering large multi discipline railway projects.

Our approach

Working on Network Rail’s behalf, we deployed a Senior Project Manager (SPM) who rapidly integrated themselves into the Skanska and CRSA delivery teams.

Collaborating seamlessly with the delivery partners, our SPM quickly identified areas of the assurance process for Delivering Work Within Possessions (DWWP) that required attention. Calling on their extensive major project experience, they set up a robust Entry into Service process with buy-in from the Designated Project Engineer (DPE).

Realising that collaboration with stakeholders was a critical success factor, our SPM built strong relationships with HS2 and Network Rail Maintenance teams – securing their alignment with the hand back processes before works began.

Our SPM also ensured that all DWWP assurance process reviews and documentation, including blockade management plans, contingency and reporting, were in place in advance of the blockade.

In addition, they organised a full roster of Network Rail Project Management staff to cover 24-hour reporting during the both the weekend works and main blockade.

Benefits Realised

  • Successful Delivery of Construction Works – Demolition of the old bridge and installation of the new structure were delivered to programme and handed back on time with no impact to operational railway and zero accidents.
  • Robust DWWP Assurance – All DWWP assurance activities were successfully completed before construction began, including DWWP reviews, and the sign-off of all documents including blockade management plans, contingency plans, and communication plans.
  • Entry into Service (EIS) Completed prior to Hand Back – EIS tracker adapted and developed from previous best practice and reviewed in T- process prior to construction. Library and tracking of construction certificates to ensure efficient review and sign off with Infrastructure Manager.
  • Successful Hand Back of all Land to HS2 – On completion of construction works, due to the relationships that we had help build with HS2, we were able to progressively hand back land parcels to HS2 to facilitate the planned start of their works.

Why D2?

We have developed a strong industry-wide reputation being able to deploy experienced project management staff who have a proven track-record of successful major project delivery and who have direct Network Rail experience. This was a key deciding factor in Network Rail’s decision to accept Skanska’s suggestion that we could support the preparation and delivery of such a large multi-disciplinary project.

Challenges and Solutions

The most significant challenge was time. When D2 got involved, there were just eight weeks until the start of the 23-day blockade. This meant that our SPM had to get up to speed very quickly, complete a handover with the outgoing Project Manager, and build the relationships that were necessary to ensure all Network Rail assurance had been achieved to enable the blockade to begin. They also identified several areas that needed to be improved to maintain full compliance with the programme.

Our SPM arranged the DWWP reviews to include specific attendees and ensure a robust review model was in place including reviews of design status, key risks to the blockade and reviewing all resource / plant supply status. The outcome was that all assurances were in place to permit the blockade and that the blockade was delivered successfully.

Similarly, our SPM’s review of the blockade / possession document status identified gaps in the blockade management plans, contingency plans and communication plans (including reporting times / frequencies during the blockade). We addressed these gaps and ensured buy-in and sign-off by all the relevant stakeholder signatories, enabling the works to begin.

By converting a meeting room into a fully IT-enabled control room environment, our SPM created a hub where all blockade reporting staff from CRSA / Skanska and Network Rail could be co located for both the preparatory weekend possessions and the main blockade. This proved instrumental in creating a one team collaborative approach where everyone was bought into a common goal.

Displaying the schedules and site plans as visual reference points, the control room provided a fully immersive collaborative environment that enabled clear and aligned reporting upwards to senior teams within the respective organisations. Our SPM also established conference call facilities and invited the project team to morning and evening briefings where any issues were quickly resolved, avoiding delays and minimising risks.

Another challenge was the lack of an Entry into Service (EIS) process. From their previous experience of large multi-disciplinary projects, our SPM realised the importance of getting this process right and so developed an EIS tracker based on industry best practice. Going a step better than a simple EIS checklist, the tracker covered all the necessary engineering documents.

We established weekly T- meetings to review the status and production of design and construction certificates, along with a filing system to store certificates for easy reference during the blockade. This preparation resulted in an agile EIS process and enabled a seamless post-commissioning to sign off from the Infrastructure Manager, who gave very positive feedback testifying that the process made it easy for them to approve EIS.

Much of what was achieved would not have been possible without the formation of strong collaborative relationships in a very short timescale. Our SPM achieved this by co locating in Skanska’s offices full time and interfacing daily with CRSA. They also realised significant benefits by developing relationships with the local maintainer to ensure Asset Management Plan compliance, and with HS2 to manage the staged hand back of land and update them on progress. This was achieved through regular site stakeholder meetings to enable them to see project progress first hand and address any issues. This approach was key in successfully handing back of all land parcels to HS2 ahead of the planned strategic milestones in the project schedule – leading to very positive feedback from HS2.

“Dan came into the project eight weeks before the blockade into the Integration PM role supporting both Network Rail (NR) and Skanska. The NR team had limited resources and therefore were struggling in the preparation of the blockade. Dan supported NR and Skanska in the integration, DWWP process and blockade management to enable successful completion of the 23-day blockade”. – Keith Gardner, Skanska, Project Director

How D2 lives its ‘People’ values

What is D2’S approach to career development?

D2’s approach to professional and personal development is based on years of experience in cultivating all round, highly capable professionals. Thanks to the introduction of the D2 Career Path Framework, D2 are able to map out the professional theory and practical based experience required to seek development and progression within the organisation. For the practical side of development D2 have introduced the Competency framework, which defines what staff need to be able to do via business and functional competence per role. Through the competency assessment D2 can specifically target areas of development and provide their staff with the opportunities to gain valuable experience to develop both their own skills and the offering of D2.


Working alongside like-minded individuals who have a passion for challenging themselves, developing, and always learning is core to D2. The opportunity to work alongside professional mentors is something that can add huge value to professional development. In the following example D2’s Head of Programme Management Troy Lancaster supported D2 Project Manager Tom Mansbridge to develop and progress within the business in a short period of time through D2’s 121 mentoring programme.

Case Study – Tom Mansbridge

D2 knows it is only as good as its people and therefore ensures its people values is at the heart of everything it does. Tom Mansbridge is an example of how D2 has supported and developed one of its staff through both personal and professional development.

Originally from a banking and finance background Tom was leading teams early on in his career before moving into project management seven years ago where he has built his project career within the Rail and Utilities industries in both the private and public sectors.

Tom Joined D2 two years ago with the intention of finding likeminded individuals who were passionate about working on complex projects and expanding their knowledge globally. D2 has enabled Tom to accelerate his learning and development through working on major programmes such as the Transpennine Route Upgrade (TRU) and Metrolinx GO Expansion Program (Canada), in addition to providing the supporting career path and competency frameworks. This has enabled Tom to be promoted to Senior Project Manager within just 12 months. Most recently D2 have facilitated and supported Tom with the opportunity to relocate to Canada with his family, with the intention of supporting business growth across Canada and North America.

Professional Achievements 

D2 have supported Tom with his professional development in the following ways:

  • Support and mentorship throughout Tom’s master’s degree in project management – Finding colleagues who had studied to a high level with D2 helped Tom seek support and advice to complete his master’s degree.
  • Professional qualifications – as part of D2’s Project Management Career Path Framework D2 paid and supported Tom to obtain the Association for Project Management Project Professional Qualification (APM PPQ). This is a Level 5 qualification to demonstrate Tom has met the expectations of a Senior PM with D2.
  • International consultant – Tom’s success on TRU enabled him to interview for promotion to Senior Project Manager and apply a role in Canada as an International Consultant.
  • International Major Programmes experience – Tom is currently leading the development and implementation of a Canadian Project Delivery Readiness and assurance Standard for c.87 projects on the $50bn Metrolinx Go Expansion Program and supporting the Vice President of D2 Infrastructure in D2’s Canadian and North American Expansion.


  • Working as an international consultant on the Metrolinx Go Expansion Program – The world of project management consulting on a global scale can be a challenging one, as Tom found on his first day in the hybrid role of Lead Project Manager in Standards Development. Building new relationships and working in a different culture environment is a challenge for anyone working in a new team let alone a new team in a different country. With the help of his D2 mentor, Tom navigated the new environment efficiently and saw this and an opportunity to prove his capability. Since working on the program he has had some outstanding feedback from client leaders, project teams and colleagues within his 10 months in role.
  • Managing APM PPQ study and assessment around transition to Canada workstream – Completing a handover on a major piece of signalling enabling works on TRU is one thing, doing this while transitioning onto a new project in a different country along with completing one of the APM’s most difficult professional qualifications is another. Tom undertook his APM Project Professional Qualification while juggling major project deadlines. The exam involved countless evening and weekend studies to prepare for the three-parts that consisted of a Role Play Scenario, an Oral Exam, and a Written Report. D2 as a business supported him throughout providing flexibility, advice, and encouragement.
  • Relocating to Canada – the most recent challenge Tom has faced is undoubtedly relocation. To make this as easy as possible, D2 have provided outstanding support to move Tom and his family. This included but not limited to: arranging Visa’s, recommending Estate agents, and providing a relocation allowance to make the transition as smooth as possible. The next steps Tom intends to build on his experience in project consulting, client, and business management to support D2’s growth. Canada.

“Tom is a model example of someone who has embraced the opportunities within D2, to enable him to have a rapid progression in his career.” – Troy Lancaster, Head of Programme Management, D2.

Network Rail Structures Portfolio – Visual Inspections Optimisation

Problem Statement

Network Rail (NR) Eastern Region Buildings and Civils Route Engineering Team have circa 20,000 structures to examine and maintain from Newcastle to London on one of the most congested networks in the country. Logistical and resource challenges of maintaining a highly complex route, resulted in visual inspections of structures falling short of 400 per week required to maintain ORR compliance.

Due to a combination of specified tolerance-based inspection dates and reactive routing between examinations this was driving inefficient and unproductive working, increasing OPEX costs.

The NR Eastern Building and Civils team wanted support to proactively resolve the problem and identifying creative ways to improve the current output. This aligns with the SPEED principal which is at the core of Eastern Region.

Remit & summary of the D2 Solution

NR contacted D2 with the challenge of determining the optimal solution for NR’s Visual Examination regime and to produce a compliant & non-compliant transition plan vs. the 2022 dataset.

D2 established a multi-disciplinary team combining its rail industry Project Management experts with its Data Science team. The D2 team worked closely with the NR Examination team to clarify requirements, constraints and working practices.

D2 quickly identified that the problem to be solved was a logistical mathematical problem known as the ‘travelling salesman problem’ (TSP).

The TSP can theoretically be solved to determine the optimal solution using mathematical modelling. However, to find the fully optimized solution is extremely expensive in terms of computational power and time. To mitigate this, D2 developed an alternative probabilistic set of heuristic algorithms and created an optimization tool to calculate highly optimized solutions with significantly less computational power.

D2 built a front-end simple user interface to the optimisation tool to allow NR to easily visualise the efficiency and productivity improvements.
Benefits of D2’s Optimised Solution

Through the optimisation of Network Rail’s Visual Examinations, D2 enabled the following improvements:

  • Efficiencies / cost savings – 18.4% efficiency on overall inspection costs, equating to c£250k per annum.
  • Productivity – 37% improvement in examiner productivity, equating to an extra c2000hrs examination time vs. driving time per annum.
  • Compliance – a solution that enabled ORR compliance.
  • Health, Safety and Well-being – due to the optimised driving routes we dramatically reduced the travel times for Examiners thus lowering their fatigue and reducing their nights away from home.

Why D2?

D2’s unique position in the market as an agile SME with industry rail experts and a dedicated digital technology and data science team led NR’s Head of Asset Management from the Eastern Region to request our help in clearing a backlog of visual examinations.

Challenges & solutions

The most significant challenge that we faced was obtaining a complete set of data at the start of the project. The D2 team collaborated with NR Structures Team to collate the necessary data and make informed assumptions to enable an assumed baseline to be created. We collectively decided that the assumed baseline went straight to Phase 1 Optimisation which optimised allocation of assets to inspectors. The 18.4% efficiency and 37% productivity improvements was the improvement from Phase 1 to Phase 2 Optimisation (optimisation of examiner locations based on targeted recruitment). Hence, we expect the overall levels of optimisation from the true baseline to Phase 2 to be much higher than shown.

We needed to ensure that our solutions were based on actual working practices (which often differ subtly from prescribed procedures). To improve understanding of the challenges faced by the NR on-site teams, we shadowed NR’s Inspection teams over several days onsite which provide valuable insight that could be factored into the model.

The information captured from this exercise helped us to consider human factors when modelling the solutions. This resulted in outputs that were realistically achievable with minimal need for inspectors to change how they completed their work. A key example was average walking speed. We found that walking on ballast took on average, 50% longer than walking on normal highways conditions. So, we reduced baseline walking speed assumptions within the model to improve accuracy.

To produce the outputs needed to realise the required efficiencies, our Data Science experts constructed modelling algorithms that linked assets with access points, determined optimal base locations for inspectors, achieved manageable workload distributions, optimised travelling time, and set out realistic inspection dates.

There were several key assumptions that we either coded into the model as fixed or variable constraints. This enabled the client to specify which assets required track access and which assets had additional complexity. These variables could be manipulated via a simple front end user interface enabling NR to create their own bespoke scenarios. The user interface also enabled NR to easily visualise the efficiencies and productivity improvements presented by each scenario. To help NR we provided them with training on the system and provided them access to the tool for future use.
The outputs of our study included the optimal and utopia solutions, a compliant and non-compliant transition plan, a report, and a web-based user interface to the data analytics model. All were positively received and due to the level productivity and efficiency improvement highlighted; this generated a significant level of interest not only from the structural examination team but other NR teams such as the geotechnical team.

The next steps

To support NR, we provided a nine-point improvement plan ranging from short-term improvements such as reallocating members of their team to different geographical regions; to more long-term improvements such as targeted recruitment to enable optimal allocation of assets to examiners. A key recommendation was to continue to develop the D2 optimisation tool into a full planning tool so that it could not only deal with static datasets but so that it could also deal with dynamic datasets that adapt to the onsite changing environment. Once developed, this technology could easily be rolled out to other regions within NR to enable full optimisation of visual examinations on a national level.

Because the principles of the D2 optimisation tool have been built on optimising cyclical examinations for geographically spread assets, it can easily be applied and adapted to any routine-based activities such as maintenance. We are currently preparing to showcase the project to the NR Executive team to show them the benefits of translating the tool into a full planning tool; as well as exploring which other areas NR would like optimise. In the current economic climate where NR have limited budgets there has never been a better time to invest in technology to optimise working practices.

Interactive Virtual Induction Training


Network Rail’s Supply Chain Operations division wanted to replace their paper-based sign-in and induction process with a new digital solution that could be trialled on seven depots, for a potential future rollout across 44 UK sites.


Network Rail’s primary requirements were for:

  • A web-based system capable of offering inductions to staff and visitors before arrival on site.
  • An induction format that accurately represented the depot and its surroundings.
  • Interactive features to help with user engagement and information retention.
  • User friendly accessibility via a variety of devices and screen sizes.
  • The inclusion of a full management system that could facilitate depot sign in and sign out processes, as well as emergency rollcall functions and induction compliance reporting.

Over a nine-month period, we worked closely with key stakeholders at Network Rail to design, trial, and implement a new web-based interactive system across the seven sites.

The project made use of the latest gaming technology, which we tailored to create an immersive user experience.


  • The depot induction process is now an engaging experience with user interactivity at its core.
  • Users can complete the induction before arriving on site, allowing them to become familiar with depot layouts and site operations at an earlier stage than was possible with the old paper-based system.
  • The 3D environments provide a safe experience that familiarises users with site layouts and hazards.
  • The intuitive system features a number of knowledge checks and interactive questions aimed at improving information retention.
  • Managers can view visitor and staff induction activity, allow them to identify anyone that may need additional training, or support
  • The digital based sign in system now allows for better visibility on depot activity and footfall.
  • The system’s rollcall feature allows depot manager to view exactly who is on site at the push of a button.

“The feedback on the project has been fantastic and this is a credit to how hard D2 has worked with excellent attention to detail, ensuring that this is a program that is accessible by all.” – Stephen Shields, Network Rail Workforce Health, Safety and Environment Advisor


Why D2?

Network Rail had previously commissioned us to develop a fully interactive 3D virtual reality ballast cleaner operative training system. They had been very impressed with user friendliness and authenticity of the end product. So, when they needed help to improve their depot induction training and sign-in process, we were their clear choice.

Challenges and Solutions

Network Rail selected seven sites around Crewe in Cheshire, and Sandiacre in Derbyshire, to trial the new solution. The concept was to create a single common system with the agility to suit different layouts and functions. Each site needed to be modelled in a fully virtual 3D world to a high level of accuracy. So, our first task comprised visiting each site to gain data relating to their footprint and function, and to collect large amounts of imagery.

Next, we collaborated with Network Rail to identify and quantify key content and topics, along with the interactive elements and knowledge checks that were to be included in the system. 17 outlined modules ranged from key routes and locations on site, PPE information, working from height guidelines, and lifesaving rules checks.

To create bespoke and relevant experiences for different users, the induction was split into two categories. A general induction for visitors contained essential basic health and safety information. An advanced induction for staff and contractors covered more specific and detailed information about certain aspects of working at depots.

With the sites identified, and content defined, we were ready to start putting the system together. Using game development technology, we built seven unique 3D environments that represented each depot to a high level of accuracy. We then built in the basic elements such as system controls, cameras, navigation, and interactivity.

We now faced the biggest challenge of the project; developing a logic system that implemented the modules and content once but applied it to all seven depots and their different environments. This was critical because creating separate bespoke modules for each site would make future system updates time consuming. A legacy solution was required.

In response to this, our developers created a module management component within the system that held the core module information and interactive logic elements. By incorporating geographically mapped event markers, we enabled the component to correctly overlay the induction modules onto any depot environment we loaded into it.

The result was a single set of common modules that, if updated, could replicate very quickly across all depots, simultaneously. This feature also enables us to add more depots and environments to the system with very little effort.

Once the environments and modules were complete, D2 developed a full web-based management system which would host the inductions and take care of the data flow. This would allow Network Rail to report on induction completion statistics, view depot footfall and visitor statistics, and run emergency rollcalls on each depot. Using WebGL graphics rendering technology, this user interface would also be capable of running each depot induction through most modern web browsers and devices, ensuring a high level of accessibility for all users of the system.

The next steps

Currently being deployed to seven depots, the system has been well received and Network Rail is currently evaluating how to manage a rollout across all 44 of their UK depots. We have identified potential enhancements to improve flexibility for more complex sites. Other improvements will include lidar site scans to improve accuracy and accelerate location specific system development turnaround times.

“This project has been designed from the outset to improve how we manage our inductions, which will enable us to keep our workforce, contractors, and visitors safe when they visit and work at our depots.” – Stephen Shields, Network Rail Workforce Health, Safety and Environment Advisor


Creating Innovative Safety Procedures and Briefings


D2 was approached by Murphy to support with several safety briefs and animations that were going to outline lessons learned and the importance of correct procedure when placing possession protection. The requirement was for innovative safety procedures and briefings that could be used to highlight key risks and past close calls in a safe and engaging way.

Engagement was the most important part of this requirement and Murphy wanted to develop a briefing that provided a more interactive experience rather than simply present information on screen that must be watched.

D2’s Digital Technology team was asked to address this requirement using its experience and expertise in interactive training programs and material, having previously had great success in producing interactive training modules and scenarios for a number of safety critical processes, including protection board placement and heavy plant operations.


  • Murphy wanted to present more than just a video for staff to watch.
  • To retain attention, the animation had to use a combination of pre-set animations with an interactive element that tests end user engagement and knowledge checks.
  • The animations needed to show past real-world scenarios and outline the lessons learned.
  • The goal of the system is to spot and highlight common safety hazards around work sites.
  • The system needed to give information on past close calls, contributing factors, and lessons learnt throughout its running.

Challenges and Solutions

A major challenge was the output format. Most animations run from start to end and output to a single video file. As this project needed to be interactive, a single file output would not work. Requiring a user to download or install the system would also increase complexity and engagement which was undesirable. The team decided to deliver the output as an online resource, allowing users to navigate to a secure URL and run the system directly in a browser. This made access and entry to the system as easy as possible.

Interactivity and running order were also a challenge. There could be occasions when the users needed to talk about what they had just seen and discuss possible solutions. There would also be times when the system needed get a message across in a short time frame. The solution here was to implement several features that added flexibility into how the system could be presented.

  1. Split the system into scenarios – 3 scenarios were created and split into modules that can be played in any order. A main menu system allows for quick selection, or replay, of a specific scenario.
  2. Allow the system to pause at any point – the lead can stop each scenario at any point if there are questions or a discussion to be had, resuming where they stopped when ready.
  3. Additional information prompts – during its running, the system will show prompts that the user can select. Once selected, additional information about lessons learned and contributing factors is shown.

Client feedback in this project was key. The client knew what needed to be discussed in the system but was not sure on how it would translate to a 3D environment and interactive system. After initial story outlines and text-based steps for each animation, D2 produced a storyboard to show how the system would look, and how the interactions would flow. Next, D2 produced a rough draft of the first scenario to show the environment, models, animations and interactivity that would be used. This allowed the client to get an early view of how the system would look, and to make changes or alterations before full production of the system started. Client feedback and involvement throughout the project helped ensure it achieved the client’s objectives, and that the system portrayed the intended messages.


The scenario-based solution provides a flexible way of delivering safety briefs and training, with the client able to decide which scenarios to show, and what additional information to portray. The key messages can be communicated quickly if required, or a more in-depth discussion can be explored.

The interactive elements ensure a higher level of engagement from participants which can help with information absorption and retention.

Delivering the solution via an online link, and running entirely in a browser, add flexibility for delivery and ease of use.


“At the recent NW&C Suppliers Sharing of Best Practice, JMS were really pleased to be able to share the work we have been doing to modernise the way in which we share safety lessons learnt. With the support of D2, we developed innovative interactive animations of 3no. real life past incidents. The quality of the graphics and interactive capabilities produced by D2 were very impressive, offering an exciting fresh approach to providing safety briefs on past incidents, greatly helping increase engagement!”

Jamie Rothwell
Senior Contracts Manager – Murphy Group

Exploring Digital Innovation in Canadian Rail Industry

The Challenge

With support from Innovate UK, D2 was awarded a contract to investigate how it could provide Digital Innovation to the Canadian Rail system. We chose to develop a system that could improve possession planning and visualisation tools.

For several years, D2 has been researching and developing a digital solution to possession management and geographical rail visualisation within the UK. Determined to make access planning easier, quicker, and more efficient, D2 started development of an online resource that enables real time upload, management, and visualisation of possession data.

By pulling in geographical route information, real time data, possession information, and building routing algorithms, D2 found the system could accurately represent planned rail works in a geographical format and in a standardised data format that could be easily understood. This opened the doors for fast data analysis that would previously be a time consuming, manual effort. Further research and development resulted in the ability to quickly detect clashes in work between projects, diversionary route analysis, train scheduling impact reporting, change tracking and more.

For this project, D2 aimed investigate how a similar, digital planning and operations tool could be developed in Canada to provide a safer, more efficient way to gain visibility of works with improved access planning and analysis. The focus was to investigate what geographical rail data is available and how it can be used in conjunction with maintenance planning data.

The solution provides planning tools, artificial intelligence, analytics and better visibility, efficiency and safety to planners, operators, the public and all other involved parties.

Support and Sponsors

The project was spearheaded by Innovate UK, which provides money and support to organisations to make new products and services. The project was also backed by the Department for International Trade, who provided local experts and support.

Our work was also sponsored by Systra, who acted as a local expert knowledgebase and resource that was invaluable when understanding Canada’s Rail processes and structure.

The Deliverables

Data Analysis and Format Definitions

The first goal focused on the data we needed to extract to be able to import Canadian possession information, visualise it, and accurately represent the rail network. Our data scientists and software developers investigated existing, open-source data sources and also liaised with industry experts to gain an understanding of data relations and formats. This understanding of the data would drive our development of the solution.

Data transformers and Automation

Following the data analysis, our software developers went to task and created a full data mapping between the data sources identified, and our own data structure requirements. This allowed us to create automated tools that allow for the transformation of the data from multiple sources into our own, unified system.

We now had a consistent set of geographical data to work with including, rail line data, mile markers, and stations. We also applied our standard possession data format which would allow us to link possession information to the geographical data we had processed.

User Interface Proof of Concept

We now had all the data we needed and in the right format. This allowed our software developers to adapt our existing code base for use with the new data and regions.

New tile sets were created for the map views that incorporated the Canadian rail data obtained and formatted in previous steps. Path and route-finding algorithms were defined and loaded with the new location and timing data to provide real time network visualisation when dealing with possession data.

We also set to work expanding our analysis features, building a diversionary route analysis system. This system allows user defined rule definitions for what routes can be blocked together. The system then automatically looks at all possession data in the system and finds any instances where these rules are broken.

The solution, Swiftview Canada

The product of our deliverables, Swiftview is a possession planning tool that allows for automated possession import, geographical visualisation, data management, and analysis. The system is an online tool accessed through a secure website. Data query and edit is done through a secured API, with all data stored in relational databases.

Users work in Teams to build and manage projects, with data access controlled through user roles, permissions, and delegation. Swiftview brings all of the data you need into one place for better visibility of projects, timescales, and impact.

The key advantages of the Solution

More Accurate Scheduling

Swiftview helps possession planners and other users to quickly determine where and when a possession is planned, providing faster and clearer visibility of the required possession information; helping users to identify possession opportunities.

Improved Health & Safety

Swiftview helps to minimise health and safety risks by clearly identifying clashes and errors that may exist within the possession system.

Better Project Efficiency

Swiftview saves users time previously spent on interpreting Possession data, by creating an immediate and clear visual output – letting you work faster and smarter.

Better Integration

The system utilises common data types and transformers to allow data import from multiple sources and formats. This allows all data to be centralised and queried as one, opening new insights and analysis.

Ballast Cleaner Virtual Reality Training

Network Rail’s fleet of RM900 Ballast Cleaners are helping them to increase the sustainability of the UK’s railways.

The existing operator training regime relied on manuals, mentors, and hands-on use of the actual ballast cleaners. But the high operational demand for these large and complex items of heavy plant was severely constraining new operator training. Training opportunities, and locations were governed by plant availability, with the ever-present risk of accidental damage. This severely limited the extent to which trainees could fully familiarise themselves with the ballast cleaners.

In addition to limited plant availability, the training relied on complex user and training manuals, supported by mentors, who each had their own slightly different ways of working. The constant need to cross reference between the paper copies and the equipment, along with non-standard mentor guidance introduced the risk of confusion and error.

Network Rail wanted greater flexibility in terms of training availability, duration, locations, and trainee engagement. That’s why, in June 2020, they turned to D2 Digital Technology for a cost-effective solution.

The Deliverables

The successful solution needed to offer a full end-to-end training process, including:

  • A 100% safe, user -friendly experience
  • An immersive, realistic, and fully interactive training environment, representative in layout to the actual equipment, with authentic operational functionality, procedures, and responses
  • A clear, comprehensive, and standardised set of instructions to accompany the training experience
  • Real-time technical support, interpretive assistance, and feedback.

The Challenges

This was the first project that we completed entirely remotely, due to COVID 19 restrictions. We created collaborative online workspaces, and regular web meetings with Network Rail helped us successfully maintain the agreed programme.

The existing user and training manuals were not always easy to follow, and the ballast cleaners themselves are very complex items of plant. Our team had a steep learning curve but collaborated with experienced Network Rail operators to gain the necessary level of technical understanding, so our solution achieved the desired authenticity and accuracy. This approach also helped us to define which reference material and processes were required to address the slightly different cabin and control layouts of the multiple models of ballast cleaner that Network Rail currently operated.

With much of the existing training delivered verbally by a mentor, differing terminologies had developed, which did not necessarily reflect that used in the manuals. A series of clarifying conversations helped us to standardise terminology and agree a correct step-by-step procedure that everyone was happy to implement.

The solution would involve the use of some quite complex additional peripherals such as control joysticks, pedals, and a virtual reality headset. These needed to be setup and prepared in a way that would enable the end user to operate the training system easily, without the need for additional technical training. Our decision-making process focussed on ease of use for the operator as it was important that the person using the project should be focused as much as possible on learning to operate the ballast cleaner, rather than wasting too much time learning to work the simulator controls.

Our Solution

Our digital training program takes the user through the entire ballast cleaner start-up process, and accurately simulates every step of operation.

The interactive 3D virtual environment that we created faithfully represents each of the ballast cleaner’s buttons, screens and switches. The twin joysticks and foot pedal controls are similar to those found in the operator’s cabin, creating a sense of familiarity for the user before they’ve even set foot inside a ballast cleaner.

The interface was designed to be as simple and intuitive as possible, and the peripherals were chosen for their ease of use and reliability. For example, all the peripherals are hard-wired to prevent any accidental external connection issues, or interference.

Recognising the potential need for remote training, we developed two modes for complete flexibility –

  • In virtual reality mode the user is fitted with an Oculus Quest 2 virtual reality headset and has joystick and pedal controls. This provides a fully immersive experience, enabling users to develop a more intimate familiarity with the simulated environment.
  • In desktop mode, the user interacts with the virtual controls using a standard mouse and keyboard interface. This mode is fully deployable to a wide variety of locations and can be augmented by peripherals such as joysticks and pedals.

The Benefits

  • Safe, structured, training – embeds familiarity with every aspect of operation and allows time for extended practice
  • Achieves levels of user engagement that operations manuals cannot match.
  • Mentors can easily observe trainees as they learn, allowing good habits to be taught.
  • Common issues and problems can be simulated to help prepare operators.
  • Cost effective – avoids removing expensive equipment from operational duties, along with the associated risk of accidental damage

Northern Hub


The £350m Northern Hub project was part of Network Rail’s £1.5bn rail upgrade plan for the North of England. The multi-award-winning project has improved medium-distance connections to, and across, Manchester. It also provided additional capacity for local services in Manchester, Liverpool, and Leeds.

Central to the project, the Ordsall Chord was a series of new bridges and viaducts connecting Manchester’s Piccadilly and Victoria stations. Crossing busy roads, the River Irwell, and the UK’s second deepest canal lock, the route presented multiple risks which needed managing.

The new link integrates seamlessly with existing rail routes and interfaces sympathetically with the world’s first passenger terminal – George Stevenson’s Liverpool Road Station. It went on to win 16 industry awards, recognising exemplar project planning, design, and delivery.

D2’s Role

The Northern Hub was desperately needed to unlock network capacity around Manchester, but there were many risks associated with the delivery of such a major project. Network Rail’s eight-stage GRIP (Governance for Railway Investment Projects) process minimises and mitigates the risks associated with delivering rail enhancements or renewals.

In 2011 Network Rail asked us to assist with option selection at GRIP stage 3 and then provide continuous support for delivery of the multidisciplinary project.

We helped to develop the construction strategy before going on to assist with the procurement of a contractor to complete the detailed design and deliver the project. In Autumn 2013 we were integrated into The Northern Hub Alliance, along with Network Rail, Amey Sersa (track), Siemens (signalling, power, and telecoms), and Skanska BAM (civils).

Remaining an active part of the Alliance until project closeout in late 2017, D2’s Planners, Project Control professionals, and Document Controllers provided key services including:

  • Buildability Support
  • Access Negotiations
  • Utilities Management
  • Information Management
  • Planning and Project Controls

Our services were all supported by our in-house digital experts who provided bespoke data management tools, schematics, access planning software, training modules, dashboards.

Buildability Support

Reactions to the early proposals were mixed. Key challenges included potential disruption to arterial road and rail routes, and the environmental constraints presented by the River Irwell, and the Manchester, Bolton, and Bury Canal lock. The final option had to successfully manage every risk, put rail users first, and pass through the rigours of the statutory process.

Even before the design and construction team had been formed or selected, we used our in-depth experience of multidisciplinary projects, to provide scenario planning support to assess various options from a construction perspective.

Meticulous planning and sustained consultation with rail passenger and freight service operators, highway managers, residents, and businesses were key success factors. Our team produced and controlled a robust integrated schedule with 3rd party milestones, including Department for Transport funding, Transport, and Works Act Orders (TWAO), interface milestones, materials volumes, and resource profiling.

We led the development of a Construction Report and Schedule in parallel with the Single Option Selection Design. The report detailed resource and land requirements and, on several occasions prompted adjustments to the design and/or construction methodology to provide better efficiency and programme certainty.

Supporting the official Public Inquiry for the TWAO, the report resulted in the project passing unhindered passage through the statutory process.

During GRIP Stage 4 our 4D planning, and construction sequencing expertise, ensured that single option development aligned seamlessly with an efficient phasing and programme of works. This resulted in an optimised possession strategy which realised a cost saving of approximately £6m, whilst also enabling other 3rd party projects to be efficiently delivered.

Access negotiations

When planning and negotiating access and rail possessions, we avoided simple blockade requests. Instead, we discussed alternative proposals with train operators during early option selection, developing designs and construction around the needs of passengers and freight.

During this time, we identified potential improvements to access and possession planning. Our digital experts began to develop bespoke applications which visualise possessions in detail, and which enabled us to model impacts (and opportunities) relative to wider rail timetables. They also improved data input and management functions, making our work more efficient. We have, since then, integrated these applications to create Swiftview™, a user-friendly system that satisfies all the Network Rail Access Planning Programme (APP) requirements.

Utilities management

After stakeholders, managing utility diversions was one of the highest-risk areas in terms of cost and programme. Our utilities managers engaged with the various utility providers, and Manchester and Salford City Councils to gain their ‘buy-in’ from the start. This supported programme-based utilities coordination, and efficient consents/approvals procedures.

In some instances, we amended designs to avoid diversions, exploring protection options to save time, effort, and cost. Where diversions were the only option, we encouraged a coordinated approach that avoided multiple visits by different contractors. Our exhaustive management strategy featured trackers, and ‘countdown’ checks to further minimise delays.

Information management

Our in-house Document Controllers rolled out the use of Bentley’s ProjectWise™ information management system across all of the Alliance partners and suppliers, providing interactive training for new starters and existing project staff at every level. We agreed on common working methods, efficient document management protocols, and clear lines of communication. We also establishing naming and numbering conventions and metadata criteria, along with regular compliance checks.

All of this helped us with the effortless collation of the health and safety files, for which we devised and managed a document delivery matrix, formatting, approvals, and uploads.

Planning and project controls

D2 Planners and Project Controls specialists developed efficient programmes, and end-to-end reporting cycles that allowed sufficient data validation/review points without overly extending the length of the process. Our regular reviews removed bottlenecks and identified opportunities for automation, which our digital team’s bespoke software solutions realised.

As part of the financial reporting process, we implemented an Earned Value Management System (EVMS). This included the production of a requirements specification; designing and building the system; undertaking administration and maintenance; and delivering user training.

We also spearheaded the development and implementation of a robust integrated change control process. This included creating a standard Alliance change request form, defining triggers for change, creating a Delegated Authority Matrix, and developing a Change Register with KPI Metrics to drive continuous improvement in the process. To ensure approved changes were transacted in the relevant toolsets we designed a feedback loop.

Many of the lessons learned on Northern Hub, including integrating outputs from the change control process with the EVMS, have since been carried forward to other projects.

Northern Hub


The Ordsall Chord project formed a key part of the government’s programme of works to create a Northern Powerhouse. The project saw the construction of a new rail viaduct, providing (for the first time in history) a direct link between Manchester’s three main line stations (Piccadilly, Oxford Road and Victoria Station).

The project spans the boundary between Manchester and Salford, passing through the area of the first passenger railway (with paying customers) in the world, based on Liverpool road. This new line will improve connectivity across towns and cities in the north of England, and create new direct links to Manchester Airport

The project was delivered from the commercial standpoint of a “Collaborative Alliance Agreement”, whereby D2 work in conjunction with Network Rail (the Client), as well as other alliance members such as Siemens, AMEY Sersa and Skanska BAM.


The key objectives identified to ensure successful delivery of the Northern Hub Programme were as follows:

  • Deliver Works efficiently with minimal disruption to key stakeholders, local neighbours, including train and freight operators, Manchester and Salford Councils, river and canal trusts, Highway’s agency, and local residents.
  • Provide a standard delivery process across all disciplines.
  • Development and maintenance of a detailed, underpinned and fully integrated schedule to drive deliver of the project on time, to budget, utilising accurate resource forecasting.
  • Develop and integrate effective and innovative ways of communicating project status/ performance

Solutions Provided

  • Deployed a Fully integrated alliance planning team including railway access and isolation planning team working alongside planners and delivery staff to ensure SQEP on hand for delivery.
  • Staged design requirements were identified early in the project via multi-disciplinary workshops ensuring all design requirements were fully understood.
  • Robust integrated schedule with resource profiling, risk and change management processes embedded in the project.
  • Alliance site management team formed to monitor progress of works on site and manage key disruptive possession works and blockades.
  • Weekly staging diagrams to communicate the complex staging arrangements.
  • Fully integrated construction, logistics and whiteboard meetings with consistent outputs showing all works planned.
  • Fully integrated reporting metrics established for all disciplines and combined periodic reviews with all project managers and planners to manage scheduled delays and agree mitigation measures.
  • Daily collaborative working sessions held each morning to ensure working methods are perfectly aligned, everyone works to a single safety principle, and the strengths of each organisation are employed to optimise outcomes.
  • Effective use of Quantitative Schedule Risk Analysis (QSRA) for stage enabling works and key disruptive possessions. This analysis has helped identify critical processes where additional mitigations were needed to ensure that works progressed as planned; Effective use of formal lessons learnt workshops after significant blockades ensured that innovations were implemented for subsequent works.


  • Delivery
    • To date, each key stage of the project has been successfully delivered on time, ensuring all safety requirements met, accounting for all disruptive possessions.
  • Remodelling
    • Over an 11-day blockade during Easter 2016, the alliance delivery team successfully completed track remodelling, and OLE / signalling commissioning work at Manchester Victoria Station West. During the same railway possession, we also completed the renewal of a bridge that forms the Ordsall Chord connection to the Chat Moss Lines at Salford Central
  • Alliance Reporting
    • A standard set of processes and controls have been fully embedded in the day-to-day working of the alliance.
    • The robust integrated schedule, effective change management and risk/opportunity processes have provided the alliance management team with accurate information that has been used to control the project and help us make informed decisions.
  • Stakeholder engagement
    • A number of significant outcomes have been achieved in terms of minimising disruption to the built and natural environment of Manchester City centre and keeping the many stakeholders in the project satisfied in what, on the face of it, may seem an impossible undertaking.


“Working with the Project Team, it very quickly became apparent that we were working with engineers who totally understood the work to be done and had an extremely detailed plan. We ultimately agreed a programme which involved partial and total blockades at the least busy times of year”

David Langton – Timetable Strategy Manager, TPE

“Brilliant achievement, well done on the successful completion of the Easter 2016 blockade…. now for next time”

Andy Gent – Regional Director – Network Rail IP Central

Gosforth Depot Development Scheme


Bam Nuttall presented D2 with the challenge of providing a working programme for the design and development of the Gosforth depot, incorporating key delivery/decommissioning dates for new/old rolling stock. D2 were presented with the challenge of providing constructability advice which would support these key dates, whilst maintaining the desired finish date. Additional to this, a level of contract management was required, helping to develop subcontractors’ individual programmes.


Our scope was as follows:

  • To provide a programme of works from contract award through to construction complete, which reflected the Stadler key delivery dates.
  • Ensure the construction programme was complete by the end of January 2024.
  • Provide constructability advice.
  • Highlight programme risks and issues.


There were several challenges that we encountered, including the following:

  • Time restrictions for submitting the tender programme and that the late change of construction staging meant that the subcontractors did not have an up-to-date design. Therefore, building a programme included several assumptions.
  • Validity of data provided by the project teams/subcontractors’ – This was due to a lack of designs.
  • Timeliness of data provided by the project teams/subcontractors’ – It was a challenge when requesting data be provided by specific times/dates. In most cases the data received was at the last minute, or late.
  • The new rolling stock delivery dates changed several times during the programme build, which meant ongoing amendments in order to align.


  • One D2 Planner was provided to take on key tasks, ensuring that the programme worked and met all desired key dates.
  • Baselines were taken each time there was a change made, to ensure that changes were measurable.
  • Risks to the schedule were highlighted and reported to the project team.
  • Assumptions made were highlighted and reported to the project team.
  • Daily skype calls with the project team took place, to ensure progress was common knowledge.


The benefits of taking on this work depend on the outcome of the tender. Assuming the job is won by Bam Nuttall, then the benefit will likely be additional Planning works on large depot development scheme. If the job is not won, at the very least, a positive working relationship has been further developed between D2 and Bam Nuttall, which will encourage further works in the future.



In September 2018, D2 were asked to provide planning support for the delivery of the TWAO (Transport Works Act Order) application to support the proposed improvements to the railway between Huddersfield and Westtown (Dewsbury). The improvements include:

  • Doubling the number of tracks from two to four on the railway.
  • Upgrading stations at Huddersfield, Deighton, Mirfield and providing a new station at Ravensthorpe.
  • Separating sections of track from each other with a bridge at Ravensthorpe.
  • Electrification of the Railway from Huddersfield to Ravensthorpe (continuing through to Leeds).


D2 supported the alliance by developing and maintaining a fully integrated P6 programme, which included activities relating to:

  • Surveys
  • Planning Drawings
  • Utilities Works
  • Land and Property
  • Environmental Impacts
  • Consultations
  • Listed Building Consents

The final TWAO application was submitted on 31st March 2021, which ensured an Inquiry date in 2021, which keeps the wider project on schedule.

Challenges and Solutions

The very nature of developing the TWAO application, highlights a number of potentially delay inducing problems. This meant that developing and maintaining a meaningful programme was a challenge from the start.

One of the biggest challenges in the past 12 months (March 2020 – March 2021) was the Covid-19 restrictions applied in the UK. These restrictions meant that activities such as site surveys and public consultations were required to be re-considered. Clearly this had a significant impact on the programme, and a lot of work was involved in re-planning to ensure the submission date did not slip. This was achieved by breaking down the programme, reviewing line by line, ensuring durations and logic were correct, and making the necessary amendments. What this did, was produce a programme with very little float, and therefore meant the programme required close attention. To manage this, we increased the number of programme updates from once a month, to twice a month. We also held a weekly lookahead/look back sessions to ensure any slippages were highlighted as soon as possible, therefore giving us more time to apply mitigation.


From a scheme point of view, following the first round of consultations, 85% of respondents were supportive of the scheme.

The benefit of the D2 planning team providing planning support was their ability to ensure the programme of works were re-worked effectively and continually maintained to ensure a timely TWAO submission. All involved had access to the programme, and therefore had the ability to see what impacts they had on other disciplines. The planner was able to provide lookahead reports, which highlighted upcoming issues, meaning they could be resolved proactively, thus ensuring minimum slippages. The planner also managed critical and sub-critical activities to ensure the team knew where to focus their attentions, when resources were limited.


David Crowe – ‘Teamwork’ in managing the West 3 TWAO programme”

March charter moment recognition from Mark Wroe (Planning and Project Controls Director)

TRU Health & Safety Files – Lessons Learnt Workshop

D2’s Information Management team support projects from initial set up to closeout and hand back. Information Management is a crucial element for the delivery of a successful project and provides future maintainers with clear guides to operate and maintain their assets long after a project has been delivered. 


At the end of each project our Information Management team host a lessons learnt workshop and go over how we can improve things going forward. We review what went well and what didn’t go well. The health and safety files are an area that sometimes can be left to the last minute and therefore not be compiled correctly or as efficiently as they should be. To combat this on all projects, our Information Management team host workshops at the beginning of a project to guide the team on the best possible process for managing their data. 

The Transpennie Route Upgrade West of Leeds team requested that our team run one of our lessons learnt workshops to their Health and Safety and Project Management teams to support the production of the project health and safety files.   

Challenges and Solutions

Some of the challenges faced when leading these lessons learnt workshops can be resistance to change. A number of the team felt more comfortable compiling the files as they have done previously. We also had some concerns about the data management system and how files then become approved and stored. After demonstrating how the process we were suggesting can actually save the team time and make it easier for the overall efforts put into delivering these files, we then looked at how we support the team further in setting this up. The solutions we came to looked at educating the team in the system and providing extensive guidance notes and point of contact for queries. We also covered workflow approvals processes, clear document deliverables matrices and early engagement with NRG (National Records Group). 


The benefits of providing the Transpire team with a lessons learnt mean they were able to follow a tried and tested process that will help them to efficiently deliver the hand back files for the project in a timely and secure way. In the process of educating the team in systems and approvals processes, we were further upskilling the team and in turn the rail industry as a whole. These documents are an integral part of the project programme and give the operators the information they need to maintain the railway and keep it safe for passengers and those who work along the route.  


“The D2 team were invaluable in this process previously on the Northern Hub project and were fundamental to any success experienced during the technical hand back process. Any lessons learnt from that time have been assessed, understood and have been adopted on the Transpire project to improve Information Management processes and general document and data control. The team continues to provide support and expert technical input which makes things much easier for the wider alliance team.”

Jordan Naylor 
Transpire West of Leeds Project Manager 

Northern Hub Health and Safety Files and Hand back

D2’s Information Management team have had extensive experience in data management throughout the entire project lifecycle. We support teams from set up to closeout and hand back. This information is crucial from start to finish, in order to deliver a successful project and provide future maintainers with clear guides on how they can operate and provide safe maintenance in the future.


D2’s Information Management team was asked to assist in co-ordinating the health and safety files for the Northern Hub Alliance. The commission required the team to help manage the document delivery matrix (DDM), provide guidance on common data environments, formatting, workflow and approvals, uploads, record compiling and NRG (National Records Group) agreement.

Challenges and Solutions

All files in relation to the health and safety files on the project had to be stored in a common data environment which was ProjectWise. Some of the challenges that D2 faced were around the clients misunderstanding of the systems and how to use them, missing information, and a lack of electronic copies of files. There were also numerous client questions regarding the DDM and a lack of clarity as to what files were required. 

To resolve these issues, we called all teams involved to a briefing, so we could gain a clear understanding, decide on a way for forward and agree what was required from each discipline. Our Information Management team sent in technical queries to NRG and the Senior Management team – when we had some anomalies in requests – and continually made sure, everyone was clear on their responsibilities for delivery. We held regular catch up meetings to understand where the teams were in their process and provided training sessions for those who did not know how to use the system. Guidance notes for the system were issued out to all teams and included in the health and safety file process document, and all missing data was uploaded to the system and approved as required. 


The benefits of the solutions put in place and the support from D2’s Information Management team are shown through the delivery and acceptance from NRG and the NR project management team. The submissions were all transmitted within the system, with the correct approvals process and metadata. The training provided by the team within the system has not only upskilled the project team on Northern Hub Alliance, but it has also upskilled the rail industry, as they will take that knowledge on to future projects. 

At the end of the project, D2’s Information Management team ran a lessons’ learnt workshop, gathering all the best practice that had been put in place and looked at improvements that could be made in the future. D2 will be sharing these lessons learnt on future projects, so they are able to put the right processes and procedures in place and create a more efficient way of delivering the health and safety files. 

Following, D2’s success on the Northern Hub, the Trans Pennine Route Upgrade West of Leeds team requested that D2 share our lessons learnt workshops with their Health and Safety and Project Management teams to gain insight on what processes they should set up on the project for their health and safety files. The aim being to create a best practice approach for the compilation of health and safety files on that one and future projects. 


“The D2 Information Management team were a key resource that supported the delivery of GRIP 7 for Northern Hub Work Package A. Sarah Barnes and her team integrated themselves within the different Alliance partners and provided consistent support to the team with the production, management and technical input into the Health and Safety Files as well as providing the technical expertise with the production of as-built drawings.

“The hand back of Health and Safety Files and as-built drawings to NRG is a notoriously difficult process but the work done by the D2 IM team to streamline document control systems, educate the wider team on data management and champion CAD and workstation renditioning made the project’s GRIP 7 timescales achievable.

“The D2 team were invaluable in this process on Northern Hub and were fundamental to any success experience during the technical hand back process. Any lessons learnt from that time have been assessed, understood and have been adopted on Transpire to improve Information Management processes and general document and data control. The team continues to provide support and expert technical input which makes things much easier for the wider alliance team.”

Jordan Naylor
Northern Hub Project Manager 

Planning of route-wide survey delivery – Transpennine Route Upgrade

The Alliance engaged D2’s Planning team to coordinate and manage the various survey delivery programmes, which would help to inform the design deliverables across the route. This involved our team of Planners working with multiple supply chain partners to ensure the efficient coordination and progress of surveys.

These works were successful, enabling the TRU West of Leeds design team to progress the development of their proposals through the Governance for Railway Investment Projects (GRIP) process, which is how Network Rail manage and controls all projects that enhance or renew the national rail network.


The West of Leeds route is broken down into various sub-projects, each with its own design team at a different level of design maturity. The design teams provided D2 with a multi-discipline survey scope tailored to their requirements.

Our initial task was to programme the survey scope. Based on the known access for each area, we used the average outputs and resource availability of the site teams for each individual survey type to forecast each site activity to completion. For each survey type there was a requirement for production of a report to communicate data collected on site to the design team, this process was also forecasted upon completion of site works.

A key part of the role was liaising with the supply chain partners delivering the works to support them with planning of site activities and production of reports. The programme was constantly evolving due to the many obstacles that are encountered when delivering work. D2 were on hand to react to change and advise the best-for-programme options so the impact on design deliverables was minimalised.

D2’s Planning team also tracked the status of survey scope for each sub-project and provided metrics to the wider Alliance, as well as providing forecasts to assist with the bid process to secure the budgets required.

Challenges and Solutions

Track access restrictions

The main challenge we encountered was access restrictions. The standard ‘rules of the route’ possessions available on track did not allow us to consistently visit all areas of the route, and most often there was only 4 hours of time on track per shift for the teams to work with. On certain sections, we only had available to us Network Rail maintenance possessions, which were often very limited. We also had a number of branch lines which proved difficult to target.

To best plan for the restricted track access that was available, we had to work very closely with the Transpire access planners. This enabled us to clearly understand what was expected to be available to us throughout the year. We created easy-to-read summary sheets and distributed these out to the supply chain partners, so that they could get ahead with programming their works. We also hosted weekly construction meetings, where we ran through the programme for coming weeks as well as longer term plans for all working parties.

Third party access issues

Aside from track access, we have had major issues accessing 3rd party land to carry out several works across the route. There were instances where 3rd party access had been requested, and then not been granted some 12 months later. The nature of being granted 3rd party access is unpredictable, which meant forecasting 3rd party works within the programme accurately was difficult, and sometime required mobilising site teams on a relatively short notice basis.

In attempt to provide reasonable delivery dates for 3rd party works, D2 took a conservative approach initially in programming the works, in order to manage the expectations of the design team. We liaised with the Network Rail’s integration team regularly, as they are tasked with securing access, which helped us to be able to react quickly to any impending developments with landowners.

High survey volume

Another challenge is the volume of surveys across the route. The programmes were at times very fluid and a challenge to keep up with. There were also various contractors feeding information to our Planning team on a weekly basis, so being organised was the key to keeping on track.

To deal with the volume of surveys involved, we put clear systems in place so that the supply chain partners delivered to us information in a format that was both simplified and satisfied the programme requirements. In addition to the regular construction meeting, we had sessions with the supply chain partners to talk through issues they were encountering and provided regular support with what they were doing to help translate this into successful site delivery.

Changing scope

We also encountered challenges with the changing scope of works, which evolves from the projects’ initial release. Close contact was maintained throughout with the design teams, including regular attendance at meetings, to discuss any problems encountered, any change within the programme and changes to scope.


Providing a clear process and support vehicle to the supply chain partners was vital in order to help coordinate long term planning within the various programmes – helping to supply clear deliverable dates that inform future design.

Close liaison with regards to Third Party access enabled us to avoid as many surprises as possible, giving ourselves the best possible chance to plan in advance of receiving permission to access a certain plot of land. Safety of the staff on site was critical, so detailed planning is a must, and with D2’s approach we support the safe mobilisation of teams to carry out works and progress the programme in line with the baseline.

A collaborative approach ensures a healthy working relationship, enabling the teams to pull in the same direction towards a common goal. Supply chain partners are key to the Alliance and strong connections have been built. Confident communication of problems encountered, as well as errors made, are displayed allowing early combined efforts to rectify issues in an open and positive manner.

Close contact with the design teams has meant as two separate teams working toward the same objectives, we understand the challenges that each other face. As a result, there are no unreasonable requests coming from either direction. This level of transparency between design and delivery teams ensures everybody is on the same page.


“The two planners from D2 are an integral part of the Survey team. With an understanding of the work content and the constrained timescales, they sensibly apply a logic using historic outputs and access information to provide a robust and reliable programme.

“The Survey team would be lost without D2 providing the guidance and forward planning required to achieve the work. They are not seen as D2, but as integrated Planners within the Survey team.”

Richie Atkins
Surveys Project Lead

Management of Statutory Utility Assets – TRU West of Leeds


As part of the Transpire Alliance, D2’s Utilities Management team was appointed in 2018 to oversee the management of statutory utility assets for the section of route between Manchester Victoria and Leeds. This was to ensure that all Statutory Undertakers’ apparatus was appropriately managed and coordinated in line with the projects programme and budget requirements.


As an organisation, D2 have established a proven strategy to manage the utility works element for major infrastructure schemes such as TRU. This strategy is based on extensive project experience and lessons learnt and was implemented at an early stage to align with the deliverables set out as part of each GRIP/design stage.


The scale of the project covers approximately 57km of track, associated structures and stations. We are operating as part of a large multi-disciplinary team requiring a high number of key interfaces to be established. Stakeholder management and consents are also a key consideration given the requirement to submit a Transport & Works Act Order for a section of the route between Huddersfield and Dewsbury. All types of utility apparatus are affected, including strategic utilities such as electricity and gas transmission lines that require specialist processes and procedures.


D2’s Utilities Management team operate as the key point of liaison/contact between the project and utilities providers in order to achieve early engagement, collaborative working approach and clear lines of communication e.g. early interaction and liaison with the affected Highways Authorities is vital to ensure that works can be planned and co-ordinated alongside other regional construction works, in order to reduce the impact on the highway networks and users.

Providing advice and support through the GRIP stages in order to deliver the best commercial value. As the utility providers input increases, our Utilities Management team will challenge in terms of design, cost and delivery schedules. The utility companies input, and delivery is essential to the overall success of the scheme and these challenges will continue to be achieved through regular meetings and workshops to discuss all technical, logistical, programme and cost issues in detail.


By implementing the strategy, we have been able to identify, through early engagement and by adopting a collaborative approach with the Utility Providers and Highway Authorities, significant risks to the successful delivery of the TRU programme. These risks have been quantified and integrated in the delivery schedule, to ensure that the key milestone dates are achieved.


“The D2 Utilities Management team have been part of the TRU West Alliance from an early stage, providing evidence of ‘lessons learned’ from other major programmes, that early engagement with the utility providers is a key enabler for project success. Due to the timescales and complexities of the various utility assets and processes, these activities are, in most cases, seen as critical path activities across the programme.

“The D2 team have embedded themselves into the Alliance and play a vital role ensuring that the design and construction teams take cognisance of utilities within the design and construction methodology.

“The experience the team brings at this early GRIP/Design stage is invaluable and we are starting to see great examples of how the team have prevented the requirement for diversions, through engagement with the design and delivery teams, or have identified how we can minimise impact to schedule by undertaking upfront utility works.”

John Johnson
Senior Programme Manager – TRU West Alliance

Northern Hub Information Management and Training

The Ordsall Chord was an essential part of the Northern Hub programme of works linking Manchester Victoria Station with Manchester Piccadilly Station for the first time, using over 300 metres of new track. To complete this project, input from a multitude of disciplines and companies within the Alliance was required. 

All project information was stored within Bentley ProjectWise, allowing all involved to work from a Common Data Environment. D2’s Information Management team provided ProjectWise support and training to the Northern Hub Alliance from November 2016 onwards. This support included training sessions for all levels of use, production of training material, data cleansing and day to day support from the client’s office. 


D2’s Information Management team were based out of the Northern Hub Alliance site office, to enable the efficient response to queries with regards to ProjectWise use and setup and act as a point of contact for Network Rail, suppliers and sub-contractors. Being based in the Alliance office also gave the team an opportunity to identify problems and suggest where improvements could be made.

D2 also provided multiple training sessions aimed at all levels within the Alliance teams, from basic day to day ProjectWise use through to Advanced Document Control training. Training material tailored to the specific roles within the Alliance was also produced to follow during the sessions and to refer back to afterwards. 

Challenges and Solutions

Some challenges were met in this role due to the strict control of access permissions and the number of users within the system. To maintain the prompt answering of queries and permission requests without loss of time, the team worked alongside the Network Rail BIM Manager to arrange the appropriate level of access, so the team could manage permissions across the Northern Hub central project areas, preventing a bottle neck of queries.

The process of data cleansing and migration also proved challenging. Tight deadlines meant that the work required prior to data migration had to be completed in a very short amount of time, which included sifting through thousands of file’s metadata and correcting any errors which may cause issues later in the project. The team were able to complete this task on time by streamlining the process for data cleansing and setting up procedures for bulk amending system attributes. 


The team have greatly benefitted from being involved with the Northern Hub Alliance and have gained a wealth of experience in ProjectWise setup and administration, as well as being able to provide solutions for day to day issues found in the system. Being present in the Client’s office also allowed the team to build relationships within the Alliance and allowed the D2 Information Management team to become a single point of contact for ProjectWise and Document Control queries.

Lessons Learnt

Future works will benefit from the knowledge the team have gained from this project, ensuring training is applied early in the project lifecycle and procedures and processes are set in the initial stages. 


The Information Management team have received some fantastic feedback for both training and ProjectWise support:

“Great training, well delivered and very useful. Am using it already.” Project Engineer, Network Rail

“Trainer was extremely knowledgeable, every question asked was answered and demonstrated, the paper guide has been invaluable and plays an important part in my job.” PIC, Mott MacDonald

“A very useful and not timewasting learning experience.”  PIC, Tony Gee

Protection Placement Training


After a number of complexities with protection board placement D2 was asked if they could assist with a training program designed to train staff on the guidelines for placing protection boards. The solution was a web based interactive training program designed to highlight the dangers of incorrect board placement.


The Digital Technology team worked closely with Amey to outline the requirements for the training program. The main aim was to give users training of the correct process in a safe environment without being on site. It was decided that the system would also have additional hidden objectives that users would be expected to respond to in normal working conditions such as safety risks and critical conversations.

Challenges and Solutions

One challenge the Digital Technology team faced was making the user controls as friendly and intuitive as possible. As the system had movement and placement modes there were a lot of controls that the user would need to learn. The solution was to provide a fully mouse or touch based control set that switched modes depending on the users needs. An on-screen help system also led the user through.

Adding hidden goals while also allowing the user to spot them was also a challenge. The solution was to place these goals on the user’s path while completing the main program goals. A dynamic camera system that adjusts based on user input was also created to guide the user in the right direction.


D2 provided a web-based training program that could be completed on laptops and tablets remotely with no need to be on site. The program allowed users to act out a standard protection placement scenario in a safe environment, with additional goals and objectives helping keep user attention and engagement through the program. A result and score on completion of the program enabled usable and measurable feedback to both user and trainer. This can help identify areas of improvement or knowledge caps for the user.

Swiftview Software Development


Producing weekly possession diagrams is resource-heavy, repetitive work which carries a high risk of human error. Determined to make access planning easier, quicker, and more efficient, D2 developed Swiftview, an online resource that enables real time upload and visualisation of possession data.


We made it our mission to develop a visual output for use across all rail projects and to support formal access negotiations with Train and Freight Operating companies.

In consultation with industry professionals, we confirmed that the key to progress didn’t lie with the data itself, but how people interface with, and manage it. Our key objective was, therefore, to put the user in complete control of the data.

In our eyes, the system needed to allow users to search possession data by date or week. And in terms of visual output, the data should be displayed clearly on a map, with sufficient detail to identify each line and location covered by a possession, with all other lines clearly shown.

Additional deliverables naturally followed, the system would be able to see any possession results that overlapped and had possible conflicts. These could then be flagged to the user. We even enabled real time train tracking, to help optimise network capacity.

Built-in import, export and editing capabilities would enable possession changes to be tracked and reported to the user. And data would be easily shared with other people for read only browsing.

And the whole system needed to be intuitive and user friendly, to avoid any significant re-training or upskilling.

Challenges and Solutions

Developing Swiftview we overcame many challenges. The first was the lack of one complete set of geographic data relating to the rail network.

Whilst the network data existed individually, it just wasn’t joined-up. Our Digital Technology team collected and checked all of this disparate data, starting with the geographical line data that make up the network.

Each line was checked and tagged with information such as Line of Route code, direction, and location. Next, the team aligned each location on the network with PPS location data, at the same time building in the route information for each line.

Using pathfinding algorithms, we built a system that can analyse the ‘from’ and ‘to’ location for any given possession and determine the geographical lines that make the route up.

There are many different formats that possession data can take and D2 wanted to make the process as easy as possible. The challenge here was establishing a suitable way of uploading possession data into the system. Our solution was to create an import system that supports both CSV, PPS and box plan import. This allows the user to import data seamlessly with any validation errors automatically fed back to the user.

We did it!

Swiftview has been through several redesigns borne from detailed feedback from industry experts. The current version was enables scalability and can be accessed by multiple users. Swiftview doesn’t just meet all of Network Rail’s Access planning requirements, it’s the future of possession planning. And it’s available to you, right now.


Several key benefits were identified.

  • Agility – Where some systems struggle with 40,000 lines, Swiftview has been tested with hundreds of thousands of lines of data without breaking sweat.
  • Real time Possession analysis – Swiftview allows you to visualise “what if” possession data and make any necessary changes well in advance.
  • Possession data visualisation– User friendly visualisation of box plans charts and possession data. Manual production is history, leaving the Access Planners to plan the access, rather than produce the box plans.
  • Clash detection – Allows users to quickly see and react to potential possession clashes, providing a strategic advantage and facilitating efficient diversion planning.
  • Reduces admin overhead – Swiftview’s automated possession data interfaces translate huge, highly complex spreadsheets into a range of outputs at the stroke of a key.
  • Search possession data by date/week – Selecting date, time, line and individual tracks. The unique Map View can provide pinpoint accuracy.
  • Secure and efficient – Swiftview is cloud-based for maximum efficiency, enabling large volumes of users at any given time. Data security is built into the very core of the system.

Track Renewal Animation – Coventry Nuckle


In support of their tender submission, TXM Rail commissioned D2’s Visualisations team to produce a construction sequence Animation, showing the methodology required to deliver the Coventry Nuckle Project. Our Visualisations team approached this with a combined use of Animation and Gaming software, to create the final video.


The Scope for our Visualisations team was to provide an Animation to support the renewal works for the Coventry Nuckle tender submission. The Animation comprised of 4 Key areas, with pre works to be included at a less detailed level.

The pre works included, the installation of compound, the removal of siding 3 track, the renewal of the Neck Shunt, the installation of the head shunt and the installation of the new platform 5. All of the pre works were Animated in an indicative format, with no plant movements being displayed, as this was not critical to the project. The installation of the compounds and new platform 5 were displayed as the constructed build dropped into position, with all track works being Animated in accordance with TXM’s installation process, excluding all plant, with added particle effects to demonstrate the burning of the rails.

Area 1 to 4 was the significant part of the Animation, with track renewals taking place in these areas. The renewal process for all Areas had the following procedure:

  • Burning of the tracks
  • Removal of sleepers and tracks in 6m sections
  • Excavation of area
  • Re-Ballasting of area
  • Switches & Crossings (S&C) installation using PEM LEMs
  • Plain line track install
  • Top ballast
  • Tamping

The Animation of these works showed plant movements, with an initial detailed Animation of the first routine.

Challenges and Solutions

The main challenge on this project was the scale of the Animation. A typical Animation request covers a single renewal. This project involved the single largest Animation D2 had undertaken, as it consisted of a total of 9 separate Animations (5 Indicative Animations and 4 Renewal Animations), which needed to be Animated in detail in line with the programme.

To overcome the complexity of this Animation, we needed to target 2 main criteria; how to manage the amount of Animation that needed to be provided and the complexity of such a large programme.

To manage the amount of Animation required, we split the project in to its sub-areas, which were then condensed to component Animations. These component Animations, were then divided for each area. This gave us the ability to review and update these without a large knock on effect to the whole area Animation, streamlining the workflow, allowing it to pass from the Animation team, to the gaming environment team and finally to post production.

The understanding of the programme was the second issue on the projects complexity. For this, we used a technique that has been proven before on previous projects. The lead Planner from TXM provided the team with video recordings showing the plant movements. These videos were a run through of the programme, with markers being moved up and down a printed line diagram.

A further challenge, was one that we made for ourselves. As a business, D2 strives to deliver the highest quality product. To do so, we reviewed our current processes and decided to adopt techniques used in the gaming industry.

By adopting the software platforms used for generating PC Games, we were able to bring the scene environment to life. This is something rarely considered. By introducing a more realistic environment and lighting package, we were able to showcase the Animation visuals, emulating today’s high-end visual media.


D2’s Visualisations team provided multiple benefits across a myriad of project stakeholders. With regards to construction sequencing, the Animation brought the programme to life. For the Planners, it provided a method to understand any potential issues with the programme and highlighted plant clashes, which can easily become lost within a traditional programme. For all other departments, it provided clear insight into the programme, without the need to decipher a Gantt Chart.

It additionally provided a platform for both the General Public and end user to view the proposal. For the end user, it provided confidence in TXM’s deliverables and for the Public, it removed over complicated engineering with a simple visual, allowing the information to be relayed in a format that was much easier to understand.


“We worked very closely with D2 on the production of an Animation for a tender we were working on. We have worked with D2 previously and knew that they could Animate our vision for the delivery methodology and really capture how we would plan to deliver the works. We had a strategy session with the team discussing areas of sites we would want to Animate, the types and number of plant vehicles we would require and the key focus points which we’d like to get across with the Animation. We then put together a strategy document detailing the staging of the works and D2 produced the Animation.

“The attention to detail throughout the works was excellent. The D2 team would have regular conference calls at each stage to ensure that what was being produced was in line with the requirements. The final product was of exceptional quality and showed perfectly how we would deliver the project.”

Fin Gregory
Project Manager

Manchester Airport 4th Platform


Our Utilities team were contacted by Network Rail, who having made the decision to bring forward the proposed 2018 completion date for the fourth platform at Manchester Airport railway station, would require our expertise to manage and co-ordinate the diversion of utilities.

The fourth railway platform at Manchester Airport was an upgrade – which allowed extra services to call at the Airport and provide passengers with better access from across the North of England – all as part of the Northern Hub, a £1bn investment for the railway in the North.

Network Rail’s decision combined the ongoing works being undertaken to construct the Metrolink line to the station within this project, in order to take advantage of the access opportunities already established.


Phase One of the works was to be undertaken by the Metrolink contractor M_Pact Thales which included the construction of the fourth platform and the rebuilding of Outwood Lane bridge, in order to remove the existing abutment and provide a span over the third and fourth lines and the new tram link. Our scope was to manage and coordinate the utility diversions on to a temporary structure in order to facilitate the construction of the new bridge span.

Challenges and Solutions

Using historical programme data from M_Pact Thales who had undertaken the same task to construct the Metrolink bridge over Outwood Lane, the temporary utility diversions activity had a duration of twelve months. The first key milestone date was the blockade on platform three which was scheduled for Easter 2014, including a road closure on Outwood Lane impacting the main airport access off the motorway network. This gave the project a challenge of reducing the duration of the programme by 25% to nine months at one of the main transport hubs in the North West of England.

At this stage, we had C3 budget estimates only, so standard durations set out under the New Roads and Street Works Act meant that we needed to find a solution that reduced the durations, in order to achieve the milestone date for Easter 2014. At the first meeting with the Utility Companies and Stakeholders, it was recognised that the main challenge would be the delivery phase.

The solution was for one Utility Company to take the lead (Electricity North West) by returning the C4 estimate early to enable procurement to commence, so that a start on site date of September 2013 could be achieved. Working closely with stakeholders, Transport for Greater Manchester and Manchester Airport Group it was agreed that at this key location it would benefit from having one site in order to reduce disruption and minimise traffic management impact. The advantages of this solution meant that more than one Utility Company could be present on site. Through this coordinated approach the programme was completed in six months, a 50% reduction from the estimated target.


The benefits received from this project include understanding what can be achieved by setting up a joint working group between all participants in order to achieve challenging targets. Our approach and the key to successful delivery is to engage early, in order to understand issues and risks that third parties such as the Utility Companies are faced with, due to the impact of infrastructure schemes on their networks.

By adopting a collaborative approach through the design and planning stage with the Utility Companies and Stakeholders which included several workshops, we have now established this process on subsequent projects and now forms parts of our written strategy from the outset.


“I wanted to thank you for your considerable efforts on the utility diversions at Outwood Lane. I am very conscious that the timescales you were working to were extremely challenging and without your expertise, the utility diversions would not have been completed in such a compressed timeframe. As such you have played an absolutely vital role in ensuring that the advanced civils works for the fourth platform, were successfully completed in the three-week blockade.”

Mike Heywood
Programme Manager -Northern Hub.

Earned Value Management – Northern Hub


The Northern Hub Alliance made a commitment to utilise Earned Value Management (EVM) across the Northern Hub programme as a tool to track performance; to identify issues; and to inform decision making. D2’s Project Controls team were engaged to provide a full suite of EVM services in order to monitor project performance, based upon our staff’s highly regarded approach to planning, cost collection and progress measurement.

The project was at the very heart of Network Rail’s £1bn+ Northern Powerhouse to improve travel in the North. It is the biggest transport project in the North of England for decades and saw the construction of a new rail viaduct which, for the first time in history, provides a direct link between Manchester’s three mainline stations (Piccadilly, Oxford Road and Victoria). The project spanned the boundary between Manchester and Salford, passing through the area of the first passenger railway station in the world, on Liverpool Road. The urban areas are being redeveloped, creating open and attractive spaces for the public to enjoy. It aims to improve connectivity across towns and cities by creating new direct links to Manchester Airport. It has facilitated a step change in the level of train services operating on the network, increasing capacity for passengers by providing a faster and more frequent train service.


Our Project Controls scope was to provide a full-service implementation of an Earned Value Management System (EVMS), including requirements specification; system design and build; administration and maintenance; and user training.

Challenges and Solutions

EVM can require a step-change in how project data is collected and monitored and any implementation can expect to face a degree of inertia. Our biggest challenge was the variable level of knowledge and experience of EVM within the Alliance team. Failure to understand the benefits of adopting EVM, due to a lack of knowledge or a poor previous experience, led to a reluctance to engage from some Alliance members. This slowed down the implementation phase and put increasing pressure to deliver a tangible output as quickly as possible.

In order to solve this, D2 held a series of workshops with the Alliance Participants to determine EV capability; and to develop relationships with the key stakeholders. We provided lunchtime learning sessions to upskill the wider team with general EV training, as well as more tailored sessions with the main contributors (planning and commercial teams). We also ran a pilot project as proof of concept to demonstrate outputs and benefits.


The EVMS implementation provided several benefits for the client, including:

  • Single source of data – consolidated data source integrating cost, schedule and progress data for all Alliance Partners, allowing roll-up/drill-down and cross interrogation;
  • Verifiable status reports – robust data management processes to ensure reliability of outputs;
  • Objective analysis – identification of performance issues; trends; and forecasting using standardised metrics, to inform management decisions/corrective action;
  • Management by Exception – structured approach enables management effort to be focussed on those areas that need it most;
  • Stakeholder confidence – visibility of quality reports within the Alliance; Alliance Participants & parent companies; client organisation; and other external stakeholders; and
  • Recognition and Reputation – the EVM outputs garnered praise from several external parties and furthered the reputation of the project/Alliance within the industry.

Lessons Learnt

This project provided a number of lessons learnt for the Alliance team, including:

  • A dedicated central team – investment in resources and a showing commitment to EVM;
  • Management ‘buy in’ – setting up and engagement takes time and requires management support, from the top down, to reinforce commitment to EVA and resolve conflicts;
  • Early Engagement – early involvement with key stakeholders is essential; and
  • EV capability – upskilling the team with general EV training and project specific training sessions.


“D2 were integral to the successful development and implementation of Earned Value Management tools and techniques for the Northern Hub Alliance. Working collaboratively from the outset, D2 helped define the system requirements with the Alliance team and were able to tailor the solution to exactly what was required. They sourced the required cost and schedule data; configured the Earned Value Management System and set up bespoke reporting outputs to enable effective decision making for the Alliance throughout the project lifecycle. A job well done.”

Tom Bright
Network Rail

Signal Sighting – Crossrail West


While working on the Crossrail project, it was remitted that the production of Signal Sighting material was to be produced to support the Signal Sighting process and provide Driving Training videos.


D2’s scope was to provide 3D model data to support the delivery of Signal Sighting throughout all stages of the project. Our BIM team had to follow a series of steps to convert the engineering design models, into a usable federated model for each stage of the project.

To begin, our team obtained the GRIP 5 Design models from the Common Data Environment (CDE) which in this case was ProjectWise. These models where then stripped down to a more functional form. This was done to ensure the Sighting process ran smoothly, as large model files can create run time speed issues. Additional environmental modelling was also required, as this was not part of the projects design remit, however, would be required in the use of Signal Sighting – as external environmental factors play a key role.

From here the models needed to be separated in to staged models for each blockade of work. These blockades ran each Easter and Christmas. The last stage of the model modifications was to export the staged models to an .fbx format, which could be imported into external signal sighting software.

With the individual staged model now formatted to be utilised by the signal sighting software, federated models for each blockade of work now needed to be generated. To control the creation of these staged federated models, a register was required to filter the results and identify which models files would be required.

From this the register, a list of model files would be identified for the desired blockade date and output into a document. This document was imported in to the Signal Sighting software and used to call upon the 3D models.

This register was also used to generate a federated model in the native MicroStation format and used as a review tool for the CAD team to ensure the sighting models passed Quality Control before being processed for Signal Sighting. Advancements were made to this register to automate the creation of these MicroStation federated models.

Challenges and Solutions

The main challenge on this project where the continuous updates to model data and the programme. As the Sighting process takes place throughout the project lifecycle, designs and programmes evolve and change and as such so must the data within the Signal Sighting model.

To overcome the changing designs throughout the project, it was decided that weekly reviews would take place, in which the asset data of models within Common Data Environment would be reviewed, to check for updates. If an update had been made to a model, then this was recorded and listed for update within the Signal Sighting Model.

It was also fundamental that models were split into staged designs, due to signal sighting reviews taking place at pre-defined points within the project.

D2 split the models into staged versions of the original design. As and when updates came in from the programme, the team would have to react to these and modify the staged model files accordingly.

Finally, as there where such large quantities of model data after each model had been separated in to it staged version, control over a register would be key to ensure federated models could be constructed with the right model data.

The BIM team created a register to maintain control over the staged models. Originally this was put in place as a standard model register, which held additional data that aligned with the programme. This programme alignment allowed the register to be filtered to produce a list, which informed the list of models required to generate a federated model.

The register quickly evolved and added an automated system to the construction of the Federated Models. This occurred by including ProjectWise links to the register and adding in Visual Basic coding to the register. After filtering the register, the results could be exported in to a MicroStation file, which in turn would automatically reference in the required models from the Common Data Environment, building a staged federated model.

Document Controller Training


D2’s Information Management team was approached to provide training sessions and training material on the projects currently in progress in the Rail department of WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff, Manchester.


Our Information Management team worked from the WSP PB offices to create bespoke training material, tailored to the processes and procedures required for individual projects. The projects included Northern Hub Central, Blackpool Depot, Crossrail, East West Rail, High Speed Two (HS2), Macclesfield Resignalling and Great Western Electrification Programme (GWEP). Introductory basic training sessions were completed from the client’s office followed by advanced Document Controller training, which covered project specific versions of Bentley ProjectWise, ProjectWise Administrator, Bentley Enterprise Bridge (eB) and Opentext Content Server.

Challenges and Solutions

The Information Management team faced some challenges, due to the range of projects and systems in place. This meant that the training material for each project had to be very carefully produced, as what applied to one project or system did not necessarily apply to another. To maintain the highest quality for all deliverables, standard training material was produced from the beginning of the works, which allowed each project to be amended as required from a shared source. This meant that all materials followed a common setup and were easy for the client to navigate between projects.

D2’s Information Management team also found the project timeframe to be challenging, due to the client’s submission deadlines. However, the team worked flexibly around these deadlines and quickly tailored training sessions to suit the upcoming submissions and knowledge required for them.


D2 provided training for this this project for both beginners and advanced users, through the production of clear and precise training material. This knowledge and experience can be taken forward to all new projects. D2 were also asked to return to WSP to provide further training to their engineering teams, proving the success of the project.


“D2 have provided us with a very professional service. By understanding of our organisations specific requirements, their trainer, Rebecca Pratt carefully prepared a syllabus and tailored the classes to suit users at all levels of competence, whilst providing support after the sessions for further questions and guidance. Her training covered 4 different Document Management systems in use on over 7 different projects. The results of the training has proved to be extremely beneficial to the immediate teams, so much so that we requested a second round of training the following month to include the wider project teams. I would highly recommend D2, their training sessions are engaging and the course materials are a step by step guide to avoid any confusion. All in all an extremely valuable learning experience for our teams.”

Graham Hutt
BIM Manager

Liverpool Lime Street Re-Modelling Project


The Liverpool Lime Street Re-Modelling and Edge Hill Re-Control project was a condition led renewal and re-control project. It replaced life expired signalling and track lineside assets and signal boxes. In addition, the existing track layout was remodelled to meet the future increase in timetabled passenger train movements and requirement for longer platforms.

D2 was commissioned to provide Information Management support to this logistically complicated project. We joined the DPE (Designated Project Engineer) team from Network Rail to ensure that clarity, compliance and close-out of information was fully achieved across the works, allowing all suppliers to deliver.

The £140m transformation of Liverpool Lime Street was completed on time and to budget, with the final stage taking place on Sunday 14 October 2018. Two brand new platforms were built and are in full use, and all others were remodelled, widened and/or lengthened.

An extensive signalling upgrade was also completed to allow more trains to run in and out of the station, more reliably. Signalling control was successfully moved over to a centrally-operated Manchester Rail Operating Centre in July 2018. This now provides more reliable journeys for passengers, allowing faster decision making on the railway to minimise delays.

The project commenced in December 2016 with the majority of the work being delivered over two key phases; 30 September – 22 October 2017 and 2 June – 30 July 2018. This included:

  • A 5,000 strong workforce that completed over 1 million hours
  • 4.7km of track upgraded
  • 26,000 tonnes of new ballast (railway foundation stone) installed
  • 75 engineering trains used
  • 11km of new overhead line wiring installed
  • 25 new signals installed
  • 65 new overhead line structures installed

Liverpool Lime Street Re-Modelling was a ‘hub and spoke’ style project, which meant many different engineering companies and disciplines fed into one central co-ordinating team to manage the delivery of the works.


The aim during the life of the project was to provide clear and concise reporting, tracking and management of actions and requirements of the project to support the core project team to effectively co-ordinate the suppliers and deliver the works.

This included scope to innovate processes and streamline information where necessary, to improve the communication and management of information across the project and produce more effective close-outs of actions.

Challenges and Solutions

With the contribution of multiple suppliers and engineering disciplines feeding into the project, there was a lack of standardisation and process control with regards to the flow of information. The processes that were being followed in the early stages of the project were reviewed, amended and then controlled. We outlined a clear and simple strategy to achieve uniformity across the project, whilst providing support to all contributors to ensure that this was achieved.

As the construction element of the project was logistically complex, assuring that all the design and safety requirements were fulfilled was a key to the safe and timely delivery of the project. Creating and maintaining a framework to manage the overview of these requirements made for a clear and concise understanding of the progress of the project enabling quick and effective reporting of outstanding issues and works.


There is a trend towards over complicating the issue, especially as Document Management systems such as ProjectWise, can provide so much information about stored documentation from the current life cycle throughout its history.

Through simplifying and streamlining, we were able to declutter the information, which allowed us to get to the heart of all issues and resolve them more effectively. By imposing a clear framework of uniformity and compliance across the project, a clearer and more concise presentation of information could be achieved.


“Rebecca Mercer worked on the Liverpool Lime Street Re-Modelling Project as a Technical Clerk and Projectwise Specialist throughout GRIP 5-8. She was an integral part of the Engineering Management Team; taking minutes in IDCs, inputting Signal Sighting data, assisting with Entry into Service files and administrating the collection of electronic signatures on IDC certificates to name just a few of her responsibilities. She quickly became the ‘go-to’ person for all Projectwise queries. Rebecca is a true team player, she has a ‘can-do’ attitude, is willing to take on new tasks and has a friendly but professional demeanour. I would love to work with Rebecca again in the future.”

Claire Hulstone
Project Delivery Engineering Manager
Network Rail