Meet Barry: South Western Railway’s secret weapon in drive to boost performance

The customer now has a voice at the very heart of South Western Railway’s (SWR) control room and his name is Barry.

Based at the Wessex Integrated Control Centre (WICC), Barry Lemm is one of the seven new Duty Control Managers (DCM) being tasked with ensuring that the customer is at the centre of decisions taken during service disruption.

Barry and the other DCMs are on hand 24/7 to make sure the right decisions are made for passengers as well as for the railway. They help to ensure that service is recovered not just as quickly as possible, but in a way that impacts the smallest number of passengers.

Barry Lemm, Duty Control Manager, said:

“We can’t have our customers in the control room with us, but that doesn’t mean they can’t have a say in how our network runs. My DCM colleagues and I are proud to represent the interests of our passengers and be their voice in the control room.

“Those of us who work on the railway do so because we are passionate about delivering the best journeys we can for our passengers. In this role, we DCMs are uniquely placed to really make a positive difference to the services we run”.   

Barry and his DCM colleagues kick into action as soon as disruption takes place on the network, working to mitigate its impact and ensure that passengers are given up-to-date and accurate information as quickly as possible.

To assist Barry and his colleagues in the control room is a new web based tool called Standard Operating Procedure Checklist. This tool helps to ensure that incidents are managed in a timely manner by checking off the required actions of everyone involved as the incident unfolds right up until it is closed.

Previously, management of the train service across the network was led by Network Rail alone, but this new arrangement sees the DCMs working in tandem with Network Rail’s Route Control Managers.

The move comes following a 2018 report on SWR performance by Sir Michael Holden which identified train service management during disruption and the resulting impact on customers as an area which required improvement. The introduction of DCMs is a response to this and signals a major shift towards improving customer experience.

The Holden Report was the catalyst for the creation of the Joint Performance Improvement Centre (JPIC) which has been in existence now for almost two years. The creation of the DCM role was made possible as a result of close collaboration between both SWR and Network Rail, via JPIC, as part of the Control Transformation Programme.

Commenting, Stefan Chybowski, SWR’s Train Service Delivery Manager, said:

“We strive to put the customer at the heart of everything we do, and this shakeup will put our passengers’ interests at centre stage when incidents and disruption occur on the network.

“We are determined to drive up the performance and punctuality of our network, and the Holden Report identified disruption management as an area which was key to bringing about improvements. This move is a direct response to this report, with the DCMs set to help deliver the changes our customers rightly want to see”.

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