Winning at Teamwork

July 20, 2020

Network Rail wins ICiPS 'Outstanding Team' award


Caption: Outstanding Team Winner: Network Rail

Last week, Network Rail was recognised by the Institute for Continuous Improvement in Public Services (ICiPS) for its proactive, cross-function approach to continuous improvement – a first for the Department for Transport (DfT). The Network Rail Lean Alliance won the award for ‘Outstanding Team’ during the ICiPS annual conference and awards ceremony – an event held virtually on 9 July 2020 and attended by other public sector organisations including the police, NHS and HMRC. This comes just months after the team achieved Lean Competency System (LCS) accreditation for Network Rail – another first for the DfT – meaning we now have a clear set of steps for resolving local lean problems.


The Network Rail Lean Alliance is comprised of a community of continuous improvement professionals from across the routes, regions and functions. The team won the award for their collaborative effort to champion continuous improvement across Network Rail and help other teams work more efficiently.

Maximising value:

Following devolution of the Better Every Day programme, the alliance was established in 2015 to provide a consistent approach to continuous improvement and promote a culture of continuous improvement and knowledge sharing. Equipped with a set of lean tools, techniques and methodologies, the team has supported circa 7,000 Network Rail colleagues in maximising value and minimising waste since its inception.

A consistent approach:

Frances Barrand, lean alliance member and lead continuous improvement specialist, Route Services, said: “In Network Rail’s previous business structure, there was a varied approach to continuous improvement across the organisation and those business areas that did it well had no forum to share their successes. The Lean Alliance opened the door to cross-functional collaboration, enabling us to provide a consistent approach to continuous improvement so the whole of Network Rail can benefit.

“It’s exciting to be part of a team that is helping to deliver efficiencies across the business and it feels great to be recognised by ICiPS for all our hard work.”

Frances represented Network Rail at the ICiPS conference, delivering a virtual talk on the challenges and transparency in long-term change, and is also part of the newly named Business Performance and Excellence team who provide strategic guidance, hands-on support and tailored solutions to teams within Network Rail and external organisations, helping them to reach their potential and implement valuable and impactful changes and improvements.

John Bilsland, head of continuous improvement (engineering), North West and Central, and founder of the Lean Alliance, said: “This award is recognition of the efforts that we have collectively contributed over the last four or five years in continuous improvement. To be able to demonstrate our teamworking approach to an external body and be recognised as a high performing team clearly demonstrates how we can deliver tremendous results for our organisation and passengers when we come together and break down organisational silos.”

“A well-deserved win”:

Mark Tarry, business services director, Route Services, said: “It’s a great accomplishment for the Network Rail Lean Alliance. The team has been instrumental in promoting and enabling positive change throughout the routes, regions and functions. We have a national community of subject matter experts at our fingertips and I’m proud of everything they’ve achieved. This is a well-deserved win.”

To find out more about Network Rail's Business Performance and Excellence team and how they can help you and your organisation to identify improvements, please email