Building back trust
The Crossrail programme is characterised by its complex contractual environment, which created a unique and challenging context within which multiple new systems had to be delivered together. The most complex was the Elizabeth line’s three signalling systems*, a never-before-seen combination of software and hardware that would need to integrate with other networks, for example, Network Rail’s main lines. To manage the integration of complex and unique signalling and rolling stock solutions that would ensure the new and legacy systems worked as one, the project needed a guiding mind. Step forward Plateau, a WSP-led team of representatives from Crossrail, Siemens (Germany and UK) and Bombardier (UK and Sweden), MTR, Network Rail, RfL and RfLI and WSP’s SI team. Drawing on WSP’s global expertise, the team including a Communications Based Train Control (CBTC) expert drafted in from WSP’s Toronto office who played a key role in debugging the all-important signalling software.
Co-located with the client, this +20-team added a much-needed continuity to technical planning and coordination, including testing and commissioning, assurance, technical issues and all operational mitigations and restrictions. Through Plateau, every contractor was given clarity as to what they were expected to deliver, when and how. With a robust framework to work from, Crossrail’s contractors were given a renewed sense of purpose, which helped to build trust back into delivering Crossrail.
*Communications Based Train Control (CBTC), European Railway Traffic Management System (including European Train Control System (ETCS), and Train Protection & Warning System (TPWS) (including Automatic Warning System)
Through the operators’ lens
Getting the Elizabeth line into an operable state required a robust and clear strategy demonstrating to the operators and the regulator that the railway was fit for purpose.
Following consultation with Crossrail and the ultimate operators, MTR and RfLI WSP put in place a three-stage strategy, focusing on operability in terms of design, inspection, and testing and trials.
By taking on all responsibility for looking at the railway environment from an operator perspective, the WSP team was able to build confidence in the operability of the railway. For example, ’day-in-the-life’ walk-throughs enabled operators and infrastructure managers to consider the experience of those people most affected by the environment. In considering how trains are put into service, for instance, we would imagine the driver's journey, what kind of preparation, route setting and checks they need to accomplish to make this happen.
One of the biggest challenges we faced was how to work across the multiple contracts that comprised the programme. Our approach to integrating these complex parts was to focus on how elements of the railway, such as the shafts, portals and stations, would be operated on the end-state railway, as opposed to focussing on delivering multiple, overlapping contracts.
This whole-system view became instrumental in helping the Crossrail project team meet the challenge of testing and commissioning, trial running and in bringing together all the evidence needed to prove that a railway is operable.