ACMS provides SWR with a single source of information for all their incident investigations

SWR has recently adopted ACMS as their electronic competence management system, previously having used an alternative electronic system.

South Western Railway (SWR) is part of FirstGroup, who are a leading provider of transport services in the UK. SWR operates commuter services from London Waterloo to South West London, and provides suburban services across South West England, including a subsidiary Island Line on the Isle of Wight.

SWR has recently adopted ACMS as their electronic competence management system, previously having used an alternative electronic system. SWR experienced significant challenges around their previous legacy system as the reports they needed for managing the competence management system simply didn’t exist. 

Also, the use of separate systems for both incident data and competence management required a lengthy process of manual cross checking between databases to obtain the information they required.

Consequently, issues of data quality arose with problems of duplicate or missing data between the systems and a lack of appropriate permission levels for investigators and Designated Competent Person (DCPs) in the previous system slowed down incident investigations within the business.

SWR were looking for an off-the-shelf product that had been used by other train operators and ACMS is currently being used by all other FirstGroup train companies.

We spoke to Stewart Player, Head of Operations at South Western Railway about the transition to ACMS.

“It was an easy decision once the business case had been approved to go ahead with our move to ACMS. A core benefit of having one system is being able to share experiences between all our other train operators at FirstGroup.”

SWR were formerly using multiple systems for data management which were only being used by managerial assessors. Their driver instructors and other peer assessors were still using paper-based systems which further elongated the process of assessments.

Since adopting ACMS in 2021, SWR have begun to experience significant benefits from ACMS throughout their business and having incident data and assessments all in one place. Stewart went on to say,

“When looking at our previous legacy system and comparing it to RAIB published investigations, we would ask ourselves the same questions about how we could be able to provide data and evidence should a major incident occur. Having previously used ACMS when working for GWR, I knew that ACMS was developed by AssessTech for just such a reason, and we were able to provide easy access to data following the Plymouth RAIB collision investigation. We are currently assisting RAIB with a track worker fatality incident and ACMS has been instrumental in being able to provide easy access to searchable information using a web-based process.”

Challenges of duplicate and missing data meant data quality was a key challenge for SWR when migrating to ACMS. SWR worked closely with the AssessTech team during the initial setup to cleanse this data and provide all the information they required in one place. When reflecting on the set-up process, Stewart said,

“The key to the migration period was ensuring good project management – AssessTech provided us with a clear understanding of the setup requirements for ACMS such as locations, permissions, schedules, roles, etc. AssessTech were able to assist with the move from our existing system and offer technical solutions to data imports, where required. AssessTech’s team are approachable, supportive, and knowledgeable and were on hand to support us through this transition at every stage of the process.”

“Having all information in one place where it is linked to respondents/colleagues provides us with a better overview of the incident profiles of individuals, depots, and our company. Having up to date and quality data on our colleagues and incident investigations has reduced the number of overdue assessments and significantly reduced paperwork as cab passes and assessments are online. We have managed to speed up our time management processes using the web-based system, such as overdue assessments were originally authorised on paper, and through the reporting processes on ACMS we are now able to undertake better verification of our assessors which has had benefits to enhance their knowledge and in turn assures we have a fully developmental CMS.”

Stewart Player

Head of Operations, South Western Railway

Now that SWR has firmly integrated ACMS into their day-to-day processes, SWR are really starting to see the richness of the data and the resulting benefits in their analysis of incident investigations. They have been able to link causational analysis and incident factors into development plans for colleagues and understanding human factors regarding the organisation and the role their employees undertake.