The RailStaff Awards 2022

Nominations for Rail Person of the Year

James Davies

Said the following about Simon Blair:

“I wish to nominate Simon Blair for his exceptional support as the Planning and Project Controls lead for the Northern Hub Alliance – Ordsall Chord. A real asset to the project and industry.

From the start the project team embraced Network Rail’s ‘new ways of working’. Although it ‘only’ represents a short section of new track, a huge amount of planning and preparation was necessary to design, procure, install and test this complex, multi-staged multi-disciplinary infrastructure project. The programme consisted of over 250 No. strategic and 750 No. tactical milestones plus tens of thousands of supporting activities. No easy task.

To help keep the railway running safely, efficiently and in consultation with the TOCs and FOCs, Simon was the key individual that helped develop the commissioning and possession access strategy which defined the major stages of works required to deliver the project.

To say the least he brings people together and without hesitation works to find a best for project solution; no egos and no dramas. From being proactive in developing our integrated access and construction strategy to bringing expertise and rigour to a multi-disciplinary and complex project when things don’t go to plan! He also commands respect from stakeholders including NR Access Planning, TOCs and FOCs; being proactive, straight talking and pragmatic.

Simon has led and integrated our multi-disciplinary project controls; providing management information to support decision making at the right time. In addition he was at the heart of developing, designing and delivering a number of ‘best in class’ approaches to ensure collaboration up and down the supply chain. These included:

• Integrated reporting metrics for all disciplines and combined periodic reviews with all project managers and planners to manage scheduled changes and agree mitigation measures

• Development of an integrated planning team and robust schedule

• Blockade planning and 4D animations to improve integration and communication

• Robust schedule, risk and change management processes

• Collaborative planning sessions

Simon is highly motivated and professional, both in effort and focus; plus he is calm under pressure. For instance whether presenting to senior executives as part of our period project review, or day after day supporting a major blockade at Christmas 2016; needing to significant re-plan the blockade to mitigate delays to maintain our entry into service.

As an Alliance to date, we have successfully delivered six of the seven key stages plus numerous stageworks, safely, effectively and on time. He has been a fundamental factor in our delivery success to date.“