Smartphone technology revolutionising railway maintenance

A smart technology revolution which is helping frontline Network Rail workers do their jobs more safely, efficiently and effectively has been captured in a short film featured on

Over the past four years, Network Rail has rolled out more than 25,000 iOS devices – both iPad and iPhone – to its workforce, with more than 18,000 of these across its frontline maintenance, operations, and safety and engineering teams. The introduction has helped modernise the workforce, banishing bulky and impractical paperwork and helping improve the performance and safety of those working on the railway. It’s also estimated that the use of modern technology will help realise over £700 million worth of efficiencies over the next ten years.

This revolution has been captured in a short film on which describes how iPad and iPhone technology has helped the business work smarter and safer to deliver its Railway Upgrade Plan.

Smartphone and tablet technology helps staff to predict, prevent and respond to incidents on the railway network. The movement towards a paperless railway has been aided by the development of more than 60 unique mobile apps created in-house by Network Rail. The apps help provide staff with the latest technical data, GPS locations, and streamlined reporting. Gone forever are the cumbersome reference books, ambiguously located trouble spots, and rain-soaked paperwork that slowed the repair process.

Susan Cooklin, Network Rail’s chief information officer, commented:

“Over the last four years we’ve carried out a major programme to put digital technology at the heart of our frontline operations. Providing mobile devices with bespoke apps for our people fixing, maintaining and improving our railway aids quicker and safer decision making. It enables them to do the right work, in the right place, at the right time, and is helping cut the cost of the railway.”

Philip Entwistle, a Network Rail maintenance team leader based in Rugby, features in the film and uses Network Rail’s apps as part of his daily work. He said:

“In the old days, you tended to leave stuff behind as you didn’t want to carry reams of paperwork, folders and manuals – now that’s all accessible via our iPhone or iPad. I regularly use the Close Call app to take photos of anything I see that could cause a safety risk to staff or passengers and can quickly create a report in the app and send it across to our call centre who can respond. Nothing gets lost that way, it’s a lot safer.”