Quality Driven Electronic Competence Management Solution for Govia Thameslink Railway

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) is the largest UK railway franchise accounting for over 24% of all rail journeys across the country.

Operating under four brands (Gatwick Express, Southern Railway, Thameslink and Great Northern) it employs over 7,400 people and manages 239 stations from Brighton to Cambridge.

GTR had been facing some significant challenges around competence management.  One of the biggest challenges the company faced was that there was a single over-arching competency management standard across the four operators but different legacy electronic systems to deliver this (Gatwick Express and Southern have one Management Board and Thameslink and Great Northern a separate one).  Gatwick Express & Southern, and Thameslink & Great Northern, also have their own Head of Safety, and in some cases legacy standards and process for managing specific areas of competency management system. This led to challenges for GTR due to different processes and legacy approaches.

At the end of 2019, Justin Willet jointed GTR as Head of Safety & Environmental Standards (Professional Head of Ops)and started to explore synergies across the business. Working collaboratively with the Heads of Safety and the Management Boards, the objective was to bring the 2 safety management approaches together in harmony.  In addition to the different approaches, there was also 3 different electronic competence management systems being used across the various divisions within the business which Justin wanted to streamline. This would give the business a single electronic competence management solution, with a single competence management standard and set of criteria. 

So, bringing together some key individuals from across the business from IT, safety experts to the assessors and other end users, the team identified the need for change. They created a high-level specification and went out to open tender, through a fair and transparent process to look for a system to overcome challenges and best align to the business needs. 

AssessTech were successful in the tender bid as their proposal stood out from the other bidders as being quality driven but cost competitive. 

From the outset GTR knew there would be some internal challenges as the legacy systems would no longer be centrally co-ordinated or controlled. These systems were also being used locally to resolve local problems without considering the bigger impact on the business.  Limitations with the legacy systems resulted in lots of inconsistencies across the business e.g. how an incident or event is described, route descriptions and titles for assessments.  This resulted in inconsistencies across reports which required significant manual manipulation to get the information GTR was looking for. 

A huge opportunity identified in the submission from AssessTech to support GTR was around the ability to capture competence management data in real-time using a mobile solution. This would be hugely beneficial to GTR.

GTR’s new ACMS, with the Southern theme

Justin Willet, Professional Head of Operations

Justin Willet said,

“AssessTech’s electronic competence management solution, ACMS, has offered us a ‘bullet proof’ system that smooths out the inconsistencies across the business. It is easy to access and provides us with reliable datasets, reports and intelligence.  ACMS also provides a much better overview of our assessments across GTR, highlighting areas we need to look at. Having one single licence is also a benefit as we have significantly reduced our costs.  The mobile angle provides a huge opportunity as it can ease the burden for assessors and enables individuals to take ownership of their own competence.”

AssesssTech’s system brings several benefits to GTR, most notably:  

  • Structured around a developmental competence management approach
  • Smooth transition of data
  • Quality driven solution
  • Cost Effective
  • Excellent training
  • It’s a 1 stop shop for competence

GTR are currently working closely with the team at AssessTech to migrate the data across from all parts of the business and are hoping to have this complete by the end of the Summer 2021. 

ACMS in use at GTR

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