Network Rail’s Planning4Delivery programme aims to improve safety through better technology, digitising several of the processes often responsible for lost time accidents and communication snags on the railway.

Formerly known as PDSW, the Planning for Delivery (P4D) programme will address key issues affecting frontline workers in the UK’s rail industry.

The programme aspires to give everyone involved in the planning and delivery of rail infrastructure better information, technology, and the confidence to drive safer behaviours on the front line.

In this article we’ll explore how Network Rail’s P4D initiative can help rail supply chain companies approach their digital transformation, and break down some of the most-common rail processes that technology will improve.

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What is P4D (Planning for Delivery)?

P4D is Network Rail’s initiative to reduce near misses and lost time accidents in rail and construction environments.

In order to improve both planning and delivery, the programme encourages a better understanding of safety and works briefings through embracing mobile technology; digitising many of the processes that are responsible for design snags, lost time, and safety risks.

Key aims of P4D include:

  • Improving understanding of Standard 019 version 9
  • Delivering digital solutions so that vital planning and safety information is available at the touch of a button
  • Introducing a digital Safe Work Pack solution to help colleagues make the safest decisions for the work being planned
  • Delivering an interactive graphic of the rail network to enable improved planning and briefing of work
  • Introducing a new competence to empower and upskill those who carry out the role of Person in Charge
  • Supplying a new line blockage system to improve planning and allow more work to be carried out under signal protection

Which industries are impacted by P4D?

Given that Network Rail is a rail infrastructure manager, it’s largely the rail industry that’s impacted by P4D. But many rail projects involve construction and works delivery companies that must also work in compliance with Standard 019.

In short, P4D impacts you if you’re working on or near the line, or your work has the potential to impact operational railway.

When is the P4D deadline?

To confirm understanding of P4D, all Network Rail PTS holders (ie Responsible Managers, Persons in Charge and Planners with access to SSoWPs) are required to watch a video briefing on the 019 Principles and associated ways of working by 31 March 2021.

Network Rail began briefing PTS holders in March 2020. True to the sentiment of digitising processes to improve understanding, the briefing video is a scenario-based exploration of the 019 principles, with guidance on best practices and regulation compliance.

What does P4D mean for my business?

From Network Rail’s published guidance on P4D, it looks like it comes down to two things:

  • Network Rail PTS holders in your business must improve and confirm understanding of the 019 principles.
  • Rail supply chain businesses are being introduced to digital solutions for Network Rail processes.

As part of the digitisation goal, Network Rail is making significant changes to its existing track access and Safe System of Work planning processes.

If you’re a rail supply chain company and you want to demonstrate your commitment to safety, you should consider the benefits of digitisation. From timesheets and incident reporting, through to briefings and resource management, digitising paper-based processes is the key to a safe and unified workforce.

Trackside processes are often completed using paper forms, which are not only inconvenient and time consuming, but can lead to errors as a result of double entry, inconsistent reporting formats, loss and damage of forms on site and incomplete audit trails.

Digitising these processes will help to speed up completion, hand-over and sign-off, significantly reducing the hours spent completing paperwork. It will allow engineers to access accurate, real-time data relating to potential risks, with all data stored centrally so that it can be accessed at any time, from anywhere.

Nutshell Apps P4D

Which rail processes could be digitised?

Beyond the rollout of P4D, we’ll see a move away from manual and paper processes responsible for lost time, operational and occupational risks on rail projects. There are many processes in rail and construction projects that can be digitised to improve safety and works delivery.

SSoWPs (Safe Work Packs)

Producing and delivering safe work packs is one of the most challenging parts of any rail project. It places a major burden on the qualified planner to not only deliver a comprehensive physical folder full of safety-critical documents, but for the Person In Charge to sign it off and communicate the pack to all relevant workers on the project and confirm their understanding so as not to put anyone at risk.

A digital safe work pack makes the process far easier. Instead of a thick folder of paper documents, an eSWP will hold all relevant guidance inside a mobile app, which can be sent instantly to workers out in the field. What’s more, you can even introduce in-app checks and approvals to ensure all information is read and understood.

Access and egress points

Network Rail has over 10,000 authorised access and egress points, each carrying their own guidance around walking routes and safety risks. Being able to access these digitally means no disruption to work and, crucially, safe access to the line.

Close call, near miss, and accident reporting

When working on or near the line, safety should be the number one priority. An important part of a safe work environment is the ability to report any safety risks, close calls or near misses, so those accessing the site in future will be aware of any fresh hazards and how to navigate them. Unfortunately, this can be difficult to do when communication between the field and back-office planners isn’t crystal clear.

Digitising these safety-critical processes means hazard reporting is done instantaneously. A safety risk could be logged, reported and then communicated to the rest of the workers on-site in the same time it would take to find the relevant point of contact’s phone number to make a call. In an environment like live rail, where human lives are quite literally on the line, we must harness technology to do a better job of keeping people safe.

Site diary

Site diaries can make communicating information really challenging in the sense that they aren’t standardised. Many workers have their own style of producing a site diary, and that can entail everything from handwritten notes to a long and nonsensical spreadsheet. Having a site diary app on mobile or tablet not only standardises the way information is logged and presented, but it also leaves a very clear audit trail, which is crucial on these types of projects.

Permits (to dig, to visit, to possess the line etc)

In contrast to site diaries, permits do tend to follow a standardised format. The problem is many of these permits have to be logged and processed in short timeframes, which is logistically challenging if you’re working out in the field. Having a permit app on a smartphone or tablet means the form is built and ready to be sent, it just needs you to input the essential information.

How can I embrace P4D to kickstart my own digital transformation?

Network Rail will be rolling out its RailHub solution to the supply chain, giving supply chain companies the option of digitising some of the core processes and reports in rail projects.

We’re entering the golden age of mobile technology, where all paper processes are slowly but surely being replaced with their own app. The problem for the rail industry is that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for businesses in the supply chain, because every business looks so different.

Off-the-shelf solutions rarely offer the functionality and customisation options needed to produce very specific forms, processes and reports. On the flip side, building native apps can be costly and time-consuming when you take into account the cost of hiring a developer, the cost of development, and the testing, release, and update process.

The ideal solution sits somewhere in the middle; a platform with off-the-shelf options to get you started, but with all the customisation options to make the app your own, adhere to your processes and integrate with your existing systems.

Many rail supply chain companies have reached out to Nutshell Apps to help digitise their Network Rail-standard processes, such as safety reporting in Standard 019, and COVID reporting as part of the recent 009 Standard. Nutshell’s no-code app builder makes it simple for even those without a technical background to start building, testing, and publishing apps at a fraction of the time and cost of traditional app development.

We’ve worked with a range of leading names in the rail industry, such as Murphy. The construction giant urgently needed to develop three track-side apps to ensure track access could be approved remotely, removing the need to travel between sites. With Nutshell, they were able to build and test apps for Daily Shift Reports, Access Requests, and Worksite Certifications within just a week. And, with the easy-to-use drag and drop editor, they were able to make amendments to the app themselves.

We also worked on a track-side close call reporting app for Siemens, helping them to build and launch four health and safety apps for their rail services team – Close Call Reporting, Close Call Approvals, Site Reporting, and Site Diary.


Through Planning4Delivery, Network Rail is aiming to improve understanding of safety procedures and improve the planning and delivery process through mobile technology.

This new digitisation initiative can be the catalyst for making your processes and reports digital. Not only to save time and money on manual reporting, but also to potentially save the lives on the railway.

Nutshell digital transformation in rail

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