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An agile SME response to the Williams Report

At PAULEY, we understand the need to demonstrate the context of what we offer in relation to the environment in which we offer it.

The recently announced Rail Review, led by independent chair Keith Williams, has been established to recommend the most appropriate organisational and commercial frameworks to support the delivery of the Government’s vision for the railway of having a world-class railway; working as part of the wider transport network and delivering new opportunities across the nation. Established by the Transport Secretary, the Rail Review will recommend the most appropriate organisational and commercial frameworks to support the delivery of this mission.

As a technology focused SME, PAULEY have focused on embedding themselves into the rail industry and we try to play an active role in shaping the development of both the industry and the delivery of training within it.  Our attention has always been on the development, implementation and adoption of new and emerging technologies that help drive the productivity story. But we do need to put this into context.

In practice this means understanding two things; the first is what is happening at a sector level, so what’s the direction the industry is heading in and how do we play a part in shaping that. The second is what is happening outside our sector that can influence the environment in which we operate.

First, let’s examine what the rail industry is planning, as a result of it’s recently announced Sector Deal with Government.

The Rail Sector Deal
The Rail Sector Deal sets out a new approach to the rail industry and the Government working in partnership to transform the rail sector by taking actions to increase the use of digital technology, boost productivity, improve the service received by those who use our railways and build the skills of the UK workforce to capitalise on these opportunities.

Digital technology is at the centre of this Sector Deal – digital signalling and traffic management systems are the core components for resolving the capacity problems on the current network. The Government and industry will work together to set out a clear plan for digital signalling and traffic management interventions, which will enable industry to invest in the necessary skills and resources to deliver passenger and freight capacity and reliability for the long-term. The adoption of innovations; accelerated Industry Collaborations and the uptake of ideas are key to the success of the UK Industrial Strategy and it’s four grand challenges covering all sectors of UK business.


Advanced control systems, energy management, high value rolling stock systems, whole life asset optimisation, through life management and enhancing the customer experience are all areas of UK strength or potential. The supportive infrastructure for successful innovation has improved and the Rail Sector Deal will look to expand the space for innovation.

The challenges are clear, but as the adoption of new digital technologies accelerates and new investment increases, there is an opportunity to present the railway to a new generation of potential employees as the dynamic, attractive, futuristic industry that it is.

Formal institutions like the National College for High Speed Rail, the National Skills Academy for Rail and the National Training Academy for Rail are complemented by increasing numbers of rail facilities in the higher education and further education sectors, particularly the successful UKRRIN programme. Finally, no conversation would be complete without mention of the Network Rail Training programme and the impressive facilities at their Workforce Development Centres.

Furthermore, Andrew Haines, Chief Executive Network Rail recently stated “We need operators with top-notch competence and experience, excellent leadership skills and a system-overview that enables them to work effectively together to deliver the best outcome for passengers”.

Neil Robertson, CEO NSAR recently commented “To improve our productivity, we need to invest in new technology and in skills. In the UK we have historically underinvested in both.”

If we are to sustain the existing network and take on board and reap the benefits of digital technology, then we need to address the skills shortage. One of the core delivery plans within the Rail Sector Deal is that we invest in our people and our skills. Digital Rail skills are fundamental to the future success of the railway and feature heavily in the commitments and milestones, including looking at the possibility of a Digital Skills (virtual) Academy for the industry, mandating skills and apprenticeships through procurement contracts and developing a single industry platform to recruit, promote and support rail careers.

At PAULEY we are supporting all of these initiatives and more through our continued involvement in and support of the Williams Review; the Rail Sector Deal and our work with the Rail Supply Group.


We understand the key role of immersive technologies in moving the industry forward and preparing for the 4th industrial revolution. We pride ourselves on our ability to equip our customers and their workforce with the systems and processes that help drive efficiencies throughout their business which in turn provides a better service to their customers.

Technology shift and compound growth
We live in a changing and dynamic world where technological shift is of paramount importance.  PAULEY are pioneering the use of innovative technologies across the UK Rail Industry and beyond, delivering efficiencies and improved business performance to meet the needs of this challenging environment for all key stakeholders. From Training to Maintenance and Fault Finding, our collaborations across the industry are pivotal in introducing ground-breaking, innovative, digital ways of working and to creating a modern workforce for a modern industry.

The World Economic Forum’s Chief Economist, Jennifer Blanke, points out:

Our lives are being shaken to their very core by technological change, with the Fourth Industrial Revolution transforming economies as never before. The unprecedented speed of change, as well as the breadth and the depth of many radical changes unleashed by new digital, robotic and 3D technologies, is having major impacts on what we produce and do, how and where we do it and indeed how we earn a living. And while the transformation will proceed differently in advanced and developing parts of the world, no country or market will be spared from the tidal wave of change.
If we are to seize the opportunities, and avoid the pitfalls of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, we must consider carefully the questions that it raises. We must rethink our ideas about economic and social development, value creation, privacy and ownership, and even individual identity. We must address, individually and collectively, moral and ethical issues raised by cutting-edge research in artificial intelligence and biotechnology, which will enable significant life extension, designer babies, and memory extraction. And we must adapt to new approaches to meeting people and nurturing relationships.

Better diagnostic and predictive systems on dated infrastructure leads to targeted maintenance, leading to less human interventions. In rail, software will control our operations to an even greater extent than they do now. We’ll need less people doing the same roles as today, but we’ll still need the people. They’ll just be doing different things.

And those people will need training more than ever before. Because the pace of change in technology is compounded by the desire to do things better, faster, more efficiently. So you have a compound effect of technology change and hunger to be first, to be best, to be the market leader. We understand all this at PAULEY. We understand that you need to train people effectively, efficiently and quickly. Which is what we do.

We also understand that the environment in which companies like PAULEY need to be able to operate, with creativity; with innovation; seeking productivity improvements and being encouraged to do so by the big players and by Government. This is why the Sector Deal and Williams Review are critical – they provide that context, the environment where companies like PAULEY can succeed, without barriers to entry or progress, for the good of the industry, the Government, its workers and above all its passengers. We believe that promoting SME Champions in the industry will encourage greater innovation, more creativity and higher levels of improvement in the way the railway operates. If we get it right, the Williams Review and the Rail Sector Deal will effectively interconnect the rail industry with the ever-evolving UK digital mobility network.

If you feel it is time take action, we are ready to help. Contact PAULEY today on [email protected].