The RailStaff Awards 2024

Christian Irwin

Said the following about Cornwall Capacity Enabling Scheme Team:

“The success of the Cornwall Capacity Enabling Scheme (CCES) is the outcome of a dedicated team from Network Rail and Atkins collaboratively working together to a common goal. The team overcame challenges and strived for continual improvement to successfully deliver the project, leaving a positive legacy on the workforce, environment, passengers and community we were working in.

The project, completed by October 2018, provided an additional 10 signal sections (21 new signals & associated signalling equipment) and 7 Level Crossing upgrades to enable the Department for Transport (DfT) and Cornwall Council (a project funding partner) to meet their aspiration to run an additional hourly train service from Plymouth to Penzance from May 2019. The project was delivered on time (within 26 months), for under £30m, to quality specifications, with an exemplary safety record (no major accidents) and added considerable social and environmental value to key stakeholders.

The team faced considerable challenges of programme, team experience, challenging topography and a multitude of stakeholders when planning and delivering the project. In addition, the team ended up undertaking the CCES west commissioning weekend in October 2018 when Storm Callum struck Cornwall, causing significant disruption to the rail network and providing challenging conditions for the project staff working out at each site.

The vision

Aware of the challenges the combined project team successfully worked to an agreed vision;

to deliver CCES’s remit to time, cost, quality and HSE success measures whilst constantly striving to deliver additional stakeholder value and benefits throughout the lifecycle of the scheme.

This vision was achieved through highly effective stakeholder management and collaborative working with our supply-chain.

The team

Collaborative working/teambuilding with Atkins was also enhanced through; using regular joint site safety engagement briefing sessions, joint volunteering efforts at schools and beach cleans etc, co-locating at site compounds in Menheniot and Cardrew, as well as the production of joint banners displayed at sites, offices and train stations in Cornwall that promoted the project’s vision and main objectives to ensure each party was aligned in what we were trying to achieve.

To achieve the project programme, the project team demonstrated highly effective collaborative working with each other, key stakeholders and our supply-chain contractors. We worked together to achieve effective value engineering (e.g. maintenance) to deliver safer, more ergonomic, efficient and cost-effective solutions for NR and the rail industry.

Some pertinent examples included value-engineering R27 signal so a more cost-effective straight post signal was used rather than the originally planned less easy to access cantilever structure. CCES also introduced a novel more energy efficient REB equipment housing air conditioning power supply (that used 4kw rather than 8kw used in conventional systems).

CCES also demonstrated collaborative working to overcome one of the project’s main risks (commissioning the first Manually Controlled Barrier Obstacle Detection level crossing in Cornwall and on the Western route). This entailed the team collaborating with local authorities and regulatory bodies (the highways agency and ORR), local residents/stakeholders, the supply-chain contractors and NR in-house specialist testing teams to gain support for the proposal, secure road closures, design, install and commission the crossing, as well as ensure compliance with the Level Crossing Order requirements/legislation.

Continuous improvement

CCES achieved a continuous improvement mindset within the project team which led to the introduction of considerable process and product innovations including; the novel REB air conditioning power supply (which will deliver NR cost and energy savings), the first MCB OD level crossing on the Western Route (which will enhance safety for passengers and users), as well as the use of pre-cast signal bases (to expedite construction timescales, reduce safety risks to installers and reduce embedded carbon levels).

CCES also undertook an innovative way to capture and share project lessons learned (by filming the content and producing short easier to access and stimulating videos summarising the key findings, which will be shared within the business on the company intranet site).

These innovative technologies and processes new to NR and the Cornish route have been successfully trialled by the project, so they can be rolled out elsewhere in the business and the wider industry.

Community benefits

The CCES team strove to deliver additional stakeholder value and benefits, which entailed highly effective requirements, benefits and change control management. This included upgrading existing railway deficiencies not originally in the project’s remit (e.g. replacing Liskeard Train Describer, upgrading existing dilapidated maintenance access points, replacing existing overcapacity cable trough route, rectifying errors in existing signalling records and SSI data) as well as upgrading existing non-railway infrastructure issues (e.g. repairing approach roads to level crossings in a poor state, etc).

An example of additional value created for stakeholders and the local community in Cornwall was CCES’s efforts to help preserve the historic Bodmin & Wenford Heritage Railway, which is run completely by volunteers and is a popular tourist attraction in Cornwall. The CCES project team worked collaboratively with this stakeholder to agree access (to enable machinery, materials and equipment deliveries to one of our construction sites in Bodmin) from the heritage railway’s track. In return CCES donated the redundant signal control panel recovered from Lostwithiel box by the project (see photo attached of the official handover event).

Safety and environment

The project’s success was also measured by achieving safety and environmental objectives/targets, which included the project team and its supply-chain collectively raising at least 220 Close Calls, a Lost Time Injury Frequency Rate of 0.151, closing 85% of Close Calls raised within 90 days, as well as submitting regular periodic health, safety and environment Key Performance Indicator monitoring data during the 12 months construction period.

The project also set clear social and environmental sustainability targets to be achieved by during the scheme, which included introducing a certain number of initiatives (e.g. volunteering, school visits, etc), a reduction in the emissions, carbon, water, pollution, waste materials, energy use, etc, and ensuring 95% of non-hazardous waste is diverted from landfill.

The project team also worked with the Environment Agency, Natural England and a local ecology group in Menheniot to address environmental and ecological risks/issues at various worksites on the scheme. This included preserving protected species/wildlife at one of the project’s site compounds in Menheniot (by introducing segregated areas, noise reducing acoustic barriers during the works and a man-made insect refuge/habitat) and implementing mitigation measures to ensure a badger sett discovered at the site of one the planned signals was extinct.


In summary the project team worked seamlessly together to deliver a project which defined best practice and created significant additional stakeholder benefits.“