Sydney Trains Production Planning


Sydney Trains is the suburban passenger rail network for the city of Sydney, New South Wales [NSW]. In its capacity as operator and maintainer under the Rail Services Contract with Transport for NSW, the railway covers over 815km of track, and 178 stations over 7 lines. In 2016-17, 324.7 million passenger journeys were made on the network.

The Client’s Major Work’s division is currently undertaking a transformational reform project, working towards a Target Operating Model to introduce new business units and facilities to their teams. The objective of reform was to create the catalyst required for a cultural and behavioural shift in mindset, to become a more commercially focused organisation, with an improved understanding of operational delivery and performance. Project7 Consultancy was engaged to assist the Major Works Project Operations team with the development and management of a production planning process.

The process needed to support the effective and efficient delivery of their annual works programme, across business units, through a defined standard that was transparent and would enable live visual management reporting of status.


The impact of misaligned planning and poor communication across functions resulted in a lack of structure in reporting, leading to;

• Site revisits due to work not being completed & missing materials
• Rework due to poor quality
• Poor utilisation of resources
• Increase in injuries
• Delays to the rail service caused by overruns of possessions

With the ongoing increase in services on the rail network, the team’s capacity was suffering, with the need to deliver planned work within shorter windows of access.

Operating methods had evolved in line with growing demands on the rail network, and the business units had formed a silo working mentality within the division. The impact of this, evidenced in works’ delivery, caused individual disciplines to have a distinct lack of coordination across teams. Construction site management and engineering teams suffered programme and project losses, in turn, resulting in delays handing the track back to rail operators.

A key challenge for Project Operations was identifying the urgency to address and react to required improvements in Safety, Quality, Delivery and Cost. In order to do this, a clear vision was needed, and a case for change to ensure employees were aligned to a business strategy, and fully engaged with, and committed to, delivering Continuous Improvement [CI] in their daily planning and execution.


From the diagnostic phase of delivery, P7 created a solution informed by understanding Project Operations’ current state processes and associated pain points. A future state mapping exercise was completed with delivery teams to identify a Management Operating System [MOS].

The MOS became the criteria for determining how Project Operations translates and cascades corporate goals into actions, to where the work is performed. This ensures the operating strategy is consistently translated into more specific and actionable targets for staff. The MOS translates to a Production Planning Process that includes a set of process tools, documents, meetings, and behaviours & framework; used to manage both people and process, in order to achieve results and improvements. It follows the Plan, Do, Check, and Action improvement cycle, gaining control and steadily raising the performance of the Production Planning Process.

The approach allows the setting of targets, goals, and objectives to be measured, across all elements of Safety, Quality, Delivery, Cost and People achievements. Credible data can then be utilised within the visual management cells at all levels within Project Operations.

The Production Planning Process was standardised across eight visual management planning boards across Project Operations, and further supported with weekly reviews led by Team Managers. Team Leaders are now each responsible for providing a weekly status update on the projects they manage.

P7’s coaching helped to guide Team Leaders in recognising clear actions against critical risk, across each of the defined gateways within the planning process. In turn, enabling Leadership to support and focus on key priorities. Within Project Operations the visual management cells were aligned with the Production Planning Process, outlining a series of lag and lead KPIs to monitor effectiveness and efficiency.

Impact on Performance