Network Rail
Black Diamond

Nichols were engaged to lead the Black Diamond Review, a strategic review of the west coast route modernisation restructuring programme. A new strategy was developed to satisfy the programme commitments and improve confidence in successful implementation.

Railtrack’s original strategy for West Coast Route Modernisation (WCRM) was the basis for contractual commitments with Virgin and Undertakings to the Rail Regulator in 1998. Following a review and restructuring of WCRM, concerns were raised about the ability of the programme to meet the Phase 2 outputs by May 2005. Of particular concern was the new, moving-block signalling system. Railtrack engaged Nichols to lead an immediate review of the Phase 2 implementation strategy.


We formed a strong, lean, integrated team including specialists from Nichols, Railtrack, control systems contractors and other consultants.

Drawing upon our Lean and Assured Management of Projects and Programmes principles, we challenged the delivery strategy, the scope of deliverables and all existing assumptions. We commissioned international research into the availability and status of control system options around the world and those available were assessed for suitability. Combinations of infrastructure schemes and alternative control systems were then considered in a series of scenarios. Timetabled services were re-modelled to simulate the effects of the proposed changes to infrastructure and control systems. We considered changing the baseline to resolve the outstanding timetable issues and assessed them using expert analysis and modelling.

Strategic review of West Coast Route Modernisation Programme

As a result of our work, a new strategy was developed for Phase 2 that could satisfy both commitments to Virgin and the majority of the Undertakings to the Rail Regulator within the May 2005 timeframe.

The revised strategy improved confidence that Phase 2 could be successfully implemented within the timescales quoted. It was endorsed at a Railtrack Board meeting in December 1999. The Black Diamond Review was subsequently adopted as basis of delivery strategy for West Coast Route Modernisation.


Elizabeth line London 2012 Olympic
and Paralympic Games
Towns Fund Department for
Low Carbon Contracts Company Global Technology Company Palace of Westminster Oslo Airport High Speed 2 Nuclear
Decommissioning Authority
Sellafield Office of Rail and Road

Iconic Stories

AVIVA Highways Agency Transport for London Docklands Light
Hong Kong West
Kowloon Expressway
Crossrail 2 Jubilee Line Extension Crossrail Early Years Department for Transport Intercity Express Programme Transport for London
Capital Programmes
Delivery Capability
Hong Kong
Highways Department
Network Rail Black Diamond Thales A Major UK Bank Anglo American