The 5 main challenges that need overcoming in the UK Rail sector

Rail sector challenges

Whilst 'transformation' is a term synonymous across many companies and sectors right now in the pursuit of improvement, few match the enormous changes happening within the UK Rail sector.

But then few are juggling the volume and size of challenges, that those operating within Rail are facing either.

At Value Stream Experts, we provide Lean management services for a number of Rail organisations and thus find ourselves in a strong position to be able to identify what patterns there may be with regard the main challenges facing companies within the Rail sector and what some of the solutions look like.

We put our heads together to identify what those challenges are and came up with the main 5 that we consistently see:

  1. The vast majority of Rail companies and suppliers have to operate remote to the supporting local depot.

  2. The crucial multi-tiered supply chain has to operate without stable future forecast, in an environment of increasing requirement for on time delivery

  3. European and even international competition has never been higher

  4. Regulation around safety and performance provides no room for error and carries potential business-changing fines for negligence

  5. Like many other engineering focused sectors, UK Rail is suffering from a reducing number of skilled engineer

So looking at the biggest challenges, invariably Rail sector organisations also share the same goals:

  • To be more competitive within a growing sector

  • To improve operational performance and regulation adherence

  • To 'lock in' those improvements through evolving into a sustainable continuous improvement-focused organisation

  • To develop their teams and processes

It is in fact around how they pursue the solutions, where the differences become significant and apparent.

As anybody involved with the Rail sector, the solutions to these challenges are not simple.

However, what is increasingly obvious to us, is that some of the core Lean principles and techniques that have defined the very top performing companies within the global Automotive sector, can and are being applied with dynamic results, within those Rail organisations pursuing a Lean culture.

Many of our team at Value Stream Experts have operated and trained for many years within the TPS (Toyota Production System) and we find that it is these decades of focused operational experience, which are providing the greatest returns for the Rail organisations we work with.

A clear combination of Lean Logistics skill development, Lean Supply Chain management and internal Lean team development summarise 80%+ of the work that we do with our Rail clients. Our competitive advantage is the ability of our team to quickly and sustainably transfer the necessary skills and insight, into our client's teams.

We see the crucial elements being that we operate hands-on (not theoretical, report writing etc) with our client's teams and the experience of our own skilled team, means that we know how to engage the key people throughout the process, from the executive team, through to front-line operations.

Two key areas where the successful adoption of Lean skills often falls down.

Our experience will get you there.

Call us today on 0207 412 8995 or email us on: and find how our sector-focused team could help transform YOUR business.


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