After the Asset Handover – What Next?

Imagine for a moment a rail infrastructure project where the asset is handed back on time, the work is completed as specified and everything is on budget. Does that mean it was a success?

In some respects, the answer may be ‘yes.’ But how about if after the project rail users are left thinking: ‘why didn’t they take the opportunity to install an access ramp or fit a more reliable lift while the platform was closed?’

What if one period of disruption is followed by another within six months involving the same stretch of line or the same asset? Could the additional work have been done at the same time to minimise the disruption?

What if, when future maintenance is needed, ‘as built’ records are inaccurate or hard to locate? What if maintenance information can’t be found or is generic and doesn’t match the exact equipment that was installed? What should be simple operations turn into a lengthy process with an extended period of inconvenience to travellers?

A Better Definition of Value

The point is that a purely ‘project focused’ view doesn’t tell you everything. It certainly won’t reveal whether the best value is being achieved from each investment. Yet, too often, it is the project view and the demands of the individual project that dominate.

Any rail operator will doubtless be able to point to projects where more focus on end users – whether passengers or maintenance teams – could have delivered so much more for relatively little effort. They will all have cases in recent memory where a secondary closure could have been avoided.

They will also point to instances where better planning could have shortened possessions and created less inconvenience for their customers.

This is 2018. We have better systems than we’ve ever had to capture detailed asset condition information, visualise and plan projects, and capture real time data during projects. End users should be seeing meaningful benefits from all of this.

All it takes is a state of mind from all stakeholders that thinks beyond the project deliverables, and puts the needs of end users at the centre of plans and decisions.

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