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4 min read

Stakeholder Engagement In The Rail Sector

When it comes to stakeholder engagement in the rail sector, operators have a real challenge on their hands.

According to stats from Stagecoach, the UK rail industry employs more than 190,000 people, from train drivers and station staff to those responsible for managing and maintaining the network’s 20,000 miles of track.

The UK rail network includes more than 2,500 stations and more than 40,000 bridges and tunnels. Every year, there are more than 1.3 billion passenger journeys, including nearly 270 million business trips.

As you can imagine, this is one sector where stakeholders are vast.

Stakeholders in the rail sector

There are many stakeholder groups to consider in rail, including:

  1. Citizens and associations of rail users: The general public and railway users and groups representing them constitute the largest stakeholder group.

  2. Non-governmental organisations: NGOs that are not workers’ organisations and do not represent railway users might have an interest in the development of the railway sector. This could include special interest organisations such as environmental organisations.

  3. Railway operating companies, station managers/ associations and Infrastructure managers/ associations: The railway operating companies and infrastructure companies.

  4. Rail transport workers/ associations: Railway sector workers themselves.

  5. Technology providers/ associations: Companies that specialise in technology systems appropriate to the changes

  6. Transport authorities and other National authorities: Member State national authorities and authorities at other levels e.g. regional or local responsible for the railway system will have a major interest in and influence transport changes.

Stakeholder consultation

From changes to timetables and new rail developments to questions around the threats of terrorism in the lesser protected rail space, there is a range of projects that require stakeholder opinion.

Public perception of their involvement in projects that shape their lives has changed. It is imperative now for the rail sector to be able to consult with stakeholders as widely as possible, listen to the public and adapt infrastructure systems.

The aim of the stakeholder consultation is to deliver a high-quality and credible impact assessment, allowing all interested parties to provide feedback, contribute suggestions and provide specific data that they have available on the benefits and costs (either real or expected) of the forthcoming project.

This will ensure transparency and accountability.

Stakeholder and community engagement has a far greater role to play than ever before in rail, there is a far greater appetite to have access to information - and rail operators are embracing this.

Engaging with stakeholders in the rail sector has never been so key, but going about it the right way is crucial.

Stakeholder identification & mapping

Stakeholder engagement starts with the right mapping.

In order to identify the most appropriate mix of consultation methods, it is key to identify the relevant stakeholder groups and the best way to consult them. This will ensure the reception of relevant input of the highest quality and of diverse points of view. 

It is important to specifically target groups that run the risk of being excluded, and also to identify needs to consult stakeholders with in-depth knowledge on a specific topic.

This includes stakeholder groups who may be impacted by, could impact, are relevant for, or are particularly interested in the project.

Rail sector stakeholder engagement methods

Rail operators can consult with the public in a variety of ways, everything from social media to email newsletters, website updates and town hall and virtual meetings.

Public consultation and a targeted consultation via questionnaires sent can help to obtain general and specific qualitative and quantitative data to develop the project.

Qualitative surveys can pull out insights from each response, while social media listening can help rail operators see what people’s concerns are.

Each round of stakeholder consultation can last months, with every single concern and issue needing to be logged, addressed, and ideally solved.

Managing stakeholder data

One of the key principles behind any stakeholder engagement exercise should be the way you collect, store and display the powerful data insights that you bring back from any consultation or engagement exercises.

Whilst questionnaires, consultation meetings and open discussions will all bring insights, pulling these all together into one cohesive view is a struggle for even the best rail operators, with outdated systems and spreadsheets hindering the process.

Engaging stakeholders for any project regardless of size is an expensive, time-consuming and potentially high-risk activity that opens the business up to the danger of not meeting deadlines, not communicating effectively and failing to meet necessary legislation.

The result of any business undertaking this process using spreadsheets and third-party systems to engage and manage subsequent data - typically a convoluted mix of emails, word documents, spreadsheets and various web-based systems - is risk heavy.

The disadvantages of using spreadsheets to manage stakeholder engagement are multiple, from increasing the risk of errors and lack of control over duplicates to viewing outdated information and compliance issues.

In addition, the need for constantly revising the information fragmented across various copies and versions represents an extra administrative burden.

The best stakeholder management solution for the rail sector

Many businesses such as Network Rail, GWR and Northern Railway are using Tractivity to ensure that every piece of stakeholder communication goes further than ever.

Tractivity organises stakeholders, communication and reporting together for one central source for stakeholder management. Its reports gather information from the entire project and summarise key activities whenever you need it. And also includes communication facilities such as newsletters, surveys and event management tools.

Contact us today to learn more about how we're helping clients in the rail sector and how we can also support you.

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