It’s fair to say that if we had built the UK rail infrastructure from scratch in the 21st century we’d have a much more comprehensive data picture, detailing every stretch of track, station, crossing, and intersection.

Designing, planning and executing maintenance work would then be much more straightforward and efficient.

New projects such as Crossrail have the advantage of modern processes such as BIM and colossal data storage capacity that were never available when most of the rail network was created. But we are where we are. And that is with – for the most part – the world’s oldest rail network.

But we need a comprehensive data model of the network if we are to deliver the capacity and reliability demanded of a modern rail system. Work can then be planned on the basis of condition and risk rather than time. This will deliver full value from every pound invested.

The detailed data picture needs to be built in partnership, piece by piece by everyone involved in creating and maintaining rail assets. The deliverables for every project must include comprehensive asset data in an accessible and usable format. Moreover, a collaborative mindset needs to drive our decisions and business strategies.

For every rail infrastructure project Osborne is involved with we plan early on what asset data will be collected and in which formats. If you don’t start planning this from the outset there is the all too familiar risk that the urgency to commission or hand back the asset overtakes the collection of data.

We recognised some time ago that the need to collect and hand over comprehensive asset data was a growing consideration. Consequently, we took the steps to update our systems, processes and training to ensure that sharing of detailed asset information and condition reporting had the priority it needed.

As a committed partner in the rail infrastructure community, we appreciate the importance of accurate asset data in planning, designing and executing projects efficiently. We are determined to play a full role in building the most comprehensive data picture possible so that we all continue to benefit.