The scale of the asset management task in Australia’s rail industry is enormous. It is essential for the industry to understand the need to adopt consistent and interoperable standards.
Philip Chalk is the Director of Asset Management & Maintenance ANZ at Network Rail Consulting and a speaker at the upcoming Asset Management in Rail Conference. He joined us to discuss his experience and give some insights into Network Rail Consulting’s asset policies.
Can you tell us a bit more about your background, your role at Network Rail Consulting and Network Rail Consulting as a company?
I have been involved in the planning, design and management of transport infrastructure for almost 40 years during which time I have worked in numerous countries around the world starting in New Zealand. I joined Network Rail Consulting a little over a year ago following a two year stint working as a strategic asset management advisor at Network Rail’s Milton Keynes complex. Known as the Quadrant this is a striking new building that houses over 3000 mainly technical and engineering resources under one roof. During my time there, Network Rail was preparing its strategic business plan for Control Period 5 which runs from April 2014 to March 2019. A critical part of this work was developing asset policies to justify its projected investment in maintenance and renewals.
Network Rail Consulting was launched in 2012 as the consulting arm of Network Rail, the owner and operator of Britain’s rail infrastructure. Our goal is to provide high-level technical consultancy services using skilled resources with hands-on rail experience to help clients improve their railway.
We operate only outside of Britain but can draw on the full range of skills and resources within Network Rail – a total of around 8,000 technical staff across all disciplines. Our first permanent location, other than our London headquarters, was established in Sydney in 2013 to serve the Australian and New Zealand markets. This was followed by offices in the USA and, more recently, Saudi Arabia.
Network Rail has developed asset policies to drive maintenance and renewal interventions over the next 35 years – can you tell us a little bit more about these policies and how often will they be reviewed?
In a nutshell, the asset policies set out the major requirements and decision-making criteria for asset maintenance, inspections and renewals. They take a risk-based approach while minimising whole life costs. The policies also set out the specific asset outputs that will be achieved for the funding available in Control Period 5 (some $17 billion for maintenance and renewals) in terms of safety, availability and sustainability. They form an important part of Network Rail’s asset management system and, as such, are subject to continuous improvement. However they will undergo a major review in the two years leading- up to Control Period 6 which starts in April 2020.
What are you most looking forward to at the conference?
Sharing experiences. One of the reasons I really enjoy working in asset management is that it is very collaborative and the practitioners tend to be very open about the challenges they face. There is no right or wrong way so by sharing our stories we can all learn from each other, improve our approaches and move towards the goal of finding the optimal asset investment regime to deliver the agreed outputs to our customers – sustainably.
Philip will further delve into these asset management policies at the conference in July during his Keynote Presentation on ‘Optimising maintenance and renewal interventions in Network Rail’. The conference will provide an essential forum to assess efforts towards collaboration, improving the sharing of data and standardising asset tracking, leading to massive cost efficiencies and significant improvements in levels of service.