Project Title: Introduction of Improved Passenger Compensation, Arriva Rail Northern
In 2016 Arriva group, part of Deutsch Bahn, were awarded a follow-on contract for the management of the UK Northern Rail franchise (ARN). As part of the contract passengers were to be given compensation for arrival delays of 30 minutes or more.
In April 2018 the DfT requested a proposal from ARN to extend the compensation to delays of 15 minutes or more. As the new scheme was a change to the franchise DfT would pay the costs of the scheme, including the passenger compensation, through to the expected end of the franchise in April 2026.
By Summer 2018 the introduction of the new scheme had become politically charged due to the May 2018 national timetable debacle and the local team were unable to respond due to severe resource constraints and a major renegotiation of the franchise.
AMDS Consultants Ltd were invited to provide project management resource to successfully deliver the improved compensation scheme working alongside the ARN strategic transformation team on behalf of the head of customer experience.
The assignment began in August 2018 and was initially focussed on reviewing the practicality of project implementation and preparing a response to the DfT request for a proposal by the end of September 2018.
As the proposal was developed it became increasingly obvious that the practical implementation timescale, (approximately 9 months including negotiations) and the aspirational political timescale were in conflict. Consequently, a new approach involving parallel implementation and negotiation was required. The change in approach was led by AMDS Consultants Ltd as we sought to merge the competing demands of a successful implementation with political aspiration for an early introduction of the new scheme.
The final implementation fell into four primary phases:
- Negotiations (with DfT and the supply chain)
- Conversion to business as usual
- Full operation and project closure
The revised approach allowed for an initial implementation by December 2019 with a subsequent period of 13 weeks of bedding in the new scheme, establishing the management regime and ensuring fair and reasonable recompense for the franchisee from DfT.
The new scheme was successfully introduced on December 9th, 2018 aligning with the start of Rail Year period 9 and was monitored through to April 2019 when the conversion to business as usual was complete and the project closure report published.
In August 2018 when AMDS Consultants Ltd was engaged the primary issues were:
- Finalising the proposal including the financial model which would form the basis of the DfT’s payments through to April 2026.
- Developing a practical implementation timetable for a robust and financially neutral to ARN enhancement to an existing compensation scheme
- Finalising supply chain arrangements with the two outsourced compensation providers already providing the 30-minute compensation service
- Engaging and gaining the support of internal stakeholders and those in a distributed customer base including DfT, Transport for the North, Office of Road and Rail, Transport Focus as well as maintain good commercial terms with ARN’s passenger compensation suppliers
Within very few days it became apparent that any implementation was going to be heavily influenced by the political climate and unrealistic targets for the introduction of the new scheme. To mitigate these factors AMDS Consultants Ltd undertook the following actions
- Established excellent working relationships across the customer and stakeholder landscape
- Introduced simple but effective weekly reporting structures to ensure both ARN and DfT remained engaged with the mobilisation and implementation of the new scheme
- Drove the need for a period of stabilisation of the scheme post introduction
- Won support from DfT for an up-front investment in mobilisation to accelerate the implementation programme
- Agreed a negotiating approach that allowed for parallel working, rapid engagement and collaborative solution making.
The primary outcome of an implemented scheme by December 2018 was achieved to time and with an overall reduction in the cost of mobilisation. The quality of the new scheme was progressively improved post-implementation and was business as usual by April 2019.
A number of improvements to the associated reporting structures, financial estimates and passenger satisfaction were also achieve in the conversion period post implementation.
Overall the project was successfully concluded with AMDS Consultants Ltd receiving commendations from both the immediate client, ARN, and the governmental client as well as engendering a constructive relationship with the principle supplier.
Both ARN and DfT were very satisfied by the project management service provided by AMDS Consultants Ltd remarking that the project could not have been achieved successfully without the expertise and effort applied by the engaged consultant.
Performance on the initial contract led to a subsequent role as the interim commercial manager for the ARN Customer Experience Centre. The engagement enabled new supply arrangements to be introduced with enhance performance requirements and reduced cost per processed compensation claim. It also provided the time required for ARN to recruit two new permanent member of staff to take the compensation scheme forward as part of routine operations.