Impact on the Workforce
The development of a fully integrated and inclusive People Strategy is at the heart of the Digital Railway Programme, with an engaged, informed and educated workforce critical to its successful implementation.
The last twelve months have seen significant progress in this area of the programme, with Paul Sutherland, the DRP’s Head of Operations and Maintenance, and his team working to develop and establish a number of representative groups.
The most established of these is the Operations Joint Working Group. Formed in September 2016, representatives from the RMT, TSSA, UNITE and the DRP meet on a monthly basis to share information, discuss issues or areas of concern and develop solutions for any problems that arise.
The nature of these group meetings has been extremely collaborative, with stakeholders from across the industry endorsing the approach taken and progress made.
Mick Whelan, ASLEF General Secretary, when speaking to the House of Commons Transport Committee said: “We have no fear of digital technology. We want to work with it. I was heavily involved with the Thameslink core and the automatic trains through it. Why would we object to 30 trains in each direction every hour going everywhere we want, when on the rest of the line they are driven conventionally? It is the right place to be.”
And Manuel Cortes, TSSA General Secretary, said: “Digital Railway is the future. In fact, it is overdue. TSSA, alongside other railway unions, has been calling for the installation of ERTMS to our railways since the early 2000s. We have done so for two reasons: it means a safer railway; and it allows us to run more trains and meet rising passenger and freight demand. We welcome the investment in Thameslink, Crossrail and HS2 – all digital railways. And we want to see ERTMS deployment across the rest of the railway too.”
Paul Sutherland added: “With the introduction of new technology having an impact on everybody, from train drivers and signallers to station managers and maintainers, it’s absolutely imperative that we have a well-informed and well-prepared work force. We’re committed to working closely, collaboratively and openly with all our stakeholders to achieve this and we are delighted to have received such great support and commitment to the programme.”
Building on the success of the Operations group, a Maintenance Joint Working Group was set up in March and a third and final group covering Management and Staff is to come together for its first meeting in July.