Month: June 2020

3Squared signs Competency Management Solution deal with Network Rail

RailSmart EDS software on screen with user

Sheffield-based digital technology consultancy 3Squared has signed a 3-year deal, with an option to extend for 10 years, to supply its RailSmart Competency Management Solution to Network Rail following a competitive tender process.


The deal which is one of 3Squared’s largest partnerships to date – will see Britain’s track and infrastructure owner use 3Squared’s innovative solution to help proactively manage and improve the capabilities of its operational staff.

Network Rail owns, operates and develops Britain’s railway infrastructure – 20,000 miles of track, 30,000 bridges, tunnels and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations, with 4.8 million journeys being made every day on passenger services alongside 600 freight trains running on the network.

Network Rail signed the deal following an extensive market appraisal via its Technology Dynamic Purchasing System and tender process in which it found 3Squared’s system offer the most economically advantageous solution.

3Squared’s Competency Management Solution contains a number of modules for Network Rail to access, including a training and assessment section, which supports the continuous monitoring and improvements of employee competencies, candidate overview, which offers improved visibility of employee competency data including medicals, incidents, support plans and previous assessments and a reporting module provides business insight and better visibility of the company’s current competency position.

The solution will first deploy to the North West and Central region and all other regions are then to follow depending on the successful outcome of the initial deployment.

Tim Jones, managing director at 3Squared, said: “This is a huge deal for us, and we are delighted to be working with Network Rail to help bring Network Rail’s competency management into the 21st century using our cutting-edge digital solution. 3Squared already works alongside many UK train and freight operating companies so it is a natural fit to also supply our systems to the nation’s track and infrastructure owner.”

Lucy Prior MBE, Business Engagement Director at 3Squared, added: “We are thrilled to be working with Network Rail on the implementation of our RailSmart EDS solution across its entire business. As an SME it is really encouraging to see Network Rail coming through with its commitments in its SME action plan creating mutually beneficial partnerships with innovative organisations like 3Squared.”

3Squared-led consortium wins RSSB Dynamic Train Planning Competition

Freight train on rail lines

A consortium led by Sheffield-based railway technology company 3Squared has won Government funding to develop an innovative solution to help rail freight plan short term paths more effectively.


At present, a sizeable proportion of freight train schedules, which are in the Working Time Table, are either unused or cancelled, however, the wider industry – beyond the operator itself – do not know whether or not the reserved slots are used until the day that the train is planned to run, which limits the availability of train planners being able to schedule unpredictable or last-minute movements.

Should a train operator require a last-minute move, it has to bid for a path using the rail industry’s VSTP (Very Short-Term Planning) system, which is currently a manual process and is time consuming, while these plans are often undertaken in time-pressured circumstances.

The consortium is made up of 3Squared and operators Rail Operations Group and Freightliner.

The Dynamic Freight Capacity Management (DFCM) solution will provide train planners with a historical record of train movements, allowing schedules which are frequently cancelled or part-used to be quickly identified and then bid for through the VSTP process with supporting evidence provided to Network Rail who can then check with the operator concerned as to whether the schedule will be used.

In addition, to this, it is planned that the platform will also host a real-time capacity exchange, where operators can relinquish Working TimeTable schedules for particular days and release them to the industry with participating operators being able to see this additional capacity in order spot-bid or a VSTP schedule.

As a result of the tool being able to identify unused paths, knock-on delays to scheduled services will be reduced, improving punctuality for both passenger and freight operators, while in being able to better plan stock movements, operators will be able to return trains into revenue-earning service following maintenance sooner.

James Fox, Co-Founder and Commercial Director at 3Squared, said: “The consortium’s solution will save freight operators time and resource in validating VSTPs based on historic data. This will enable more services to run at very short notice. Through better short-term planning, this also has the potential to reduce delays across the network, allowing both passenger and freight
trains to reach their destinations on time.”

Rail Operations Group and Freightliner are due to pilot the system later in the year and it is hoped that if the reliability of paths improves and the time taken to produce and submit an application decreases then it could be rolled out across the industry in the future.