Network Rail

On the right track with iPhone and iPad.

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Safety at every stop.

Maintaining 20,000 miles of track safely and efficiently is a complex task. It involves equipping skilled workers with the appropriate tools and training so they can work across thousands of sites throughout the national rail network, 24 hours a day. Network Rail has developed and deployed a collection of custom apps to streamline maintenance operations, quickly capture incident data, and share critical information instantly across its 22,000 iPad and iPhone devices.

GREAT IDEAS IN ACTION Real-time reports and repairs.

To help improve the performance and safety of the railway, Network Rail’s maintenance teams use a number of apps that enable them to complete timely and efficient repairs. One app, Close Call, helps employees report hazards as they are found so problems can be addressed quickly. The MyWork app gives maintenance teams all the information they need to start and complete repair tasks. And the Sentinel app allows field managers to electronically scan ID cards, verifying that workers are qualified to perform specific tasks.

Technicians use a variety of apps to complete their work, view tutorial videos, and report hazards and repairs.

It’s 10:30 pm and Philip Entwistle is navigating the darkened British countryside in a Network Rail van. Soon he and his Signal Maintenance Team will carry their tools down miles of track to repair a signal that’s malfunctioning. They’ll move from fault to fault all night long, finally heading home as dawn breaks.

It’s a tough job made easier by the arrival of iPad and iPhone, which provide Entwistle and 14,000 other maintenance technicians with current technical data, GPS locations and streamlined reporting. Gone forever are the cumbersome reference books, ambiguously located trouble spots and rain-soaked paperwork that slowed the repair process.

Many service calls start with hazardous conditions reported by Network Rail employees themselves. Rather than waiting hours to fill out a report at the depot, Entwistle and other workers can take pictures of dangerous situations straightaway. They’ll use the Close Call app to describe situations and upload photos to the call centre. Using the hazard’s GPS coordinates, the call centre will usually schedule repairs within 24 hours.

The Close Call app has created a virtual community within the company in which every employee has a voice. Because raising these issues is both acceptable and actively encouraged, workers have become valued participants in the principle of “safety first”. More than any other app, Close Call has been a game-changer for Network Rail.

Employees use the built-in camera to capture and report hazards in the Close Call app, and to scan employee badges in the Sentinel app.

Several maintenance technicians have arrived at a job site. But before they can start work, Entwistle needs to verify their credentials. He scans the barcodes on their ID cards, then uses the Sentinel app to review each worker’s qualifications, ensuring they are up to date. Entwistle then assigns each task to an expert with the necessary skills.

Out on the tracks, Entwistle uses the MyWork app to start each maintenance session. MyWork gives him a simple overview of all the jobs his team need to complete during that shift. By electronically delivering daily job schedules to over 14,000 maintenance staff members, MyWork has enabled them to complete over half a million work orders to date.

MyWork clusters jobs by location, skills required, and opening and closing times. Using precise map coordinates, workers can find sites easily and finish jobs more quickly. Keeping trains running on time is one of the top priorities for Network Rail and MyWork helps them minimise interruptions.

At the end of a work shift, Entwistle’s team return to the depot. “When we come back, I’ll use the MyWork app to close down a work order,” says Entwistle. “It’s how I tell the management what I’ve done, how long it’s taken me and if there are any issues with that particular work.” By asking technicians if additional maintenance is needed, MyWork can add more repairs to the work order list, boosting track safety even further.

Network Rail is committed to reducing risks for its front-line maintenance technicians, vowing to get “everyone home safe every day”. It’s a promise that iPhone and iPad are helping the organisation to keep.

Getting on board with iOS.

Network Rail has deployed iPad and iPhone across the organisation, but it was the company’s leadership that first experienced the benefits of iOS. When they saw how a simple iPad app could replace the bulky paperwork needed for board meetings, they immediately sponsored the introduction of iPhone and iPad into other lines of business.

Now all technicians are using iPad and iPhone out on the track. Network Rail’s in-house app development team have worked quickly and iteratively to build and deploy more than a dozen apps. The result — greater safety and efficiency for their teams and for Britain’s railways.

“iPhone and iPad have helped Network Rail create a culture of safety.”

Simon Goodman

Head of IS Strategy, Network Rail

Work wonders with Apple.

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