East Coast IC225 27th Set Implementation

East Coast runs fast, frequent passenger train services on the East Coast Main Line between London King’s Cross, the East Midlands, Yorkshire, the North East of England and Scotland. East Coast (EC) wished to explore the options for achieving increased utilisation of the Inter City 225 train fleet (IC225).

East Coast IC225 27th Set Implementation

East Coast runs fast, frequent passenger train services on the East Coast Main Line between London King’s Cross, the East Midlands, Yorkshire, the North East of England and Scotland. East Coast (EC) wished to explore the options for achieving increased utilisation of the Inter City 225 train fleet (IC225), via the introduction of a 27th set on nominally a daily basis, thus increasing the required availability of the fleet from 26 out of 30 (86.7%) to 27 out of 30 (90%).  IPEX Consulting (IPEX) was engaged to review the client’s processes and operations and advise on the capability and readiness of the fleet and within the engineering, production and operations functions for EC to make a December 2014 timetable commitment for the extra set.  IPEX worked with the EC team to estimate the level of certainty with which a 27th set could potentially be delivered, which enabled EC to gauge the impact of making the December 2014 commitment and the stepping stones necessary in the meantime on which the forecast level of achievement was built.


Expansion of the business was contingent upon securing additional availability within the IC225 fleet. East Coast needed to ascertain whether it was feasible to increase the IC225 fleet daily availability from the current 26 sets out of 30 through the introduction of a 27th IC225 set on nominally a daily basis.  The current 86.7% availability is already relatively high compared with other fixed formation train sets (such as TGV and ICE), especially for a reasonably small fleet, and 90% fleet availability levels are generally more the domain of large Electric Multiple Unit (EMU) fleets. In addition the IC225 fleet is over 20 years old, it fulfils a highly dispersed stabling and maintenance pattern and the planned heavy maintenance (“OH1”) programme occupies one set for a considerable proportion of the time. Given the potential impact upon the business of either attempting to deliver 27 sets but failing or not attempting to deliver the increased availability at all, EC needed a degree of independence to apply challenge and auditability to its determination on this crucial decision.


IPEX deployed a team to project manage, validate and conclude the investigation into the feasibility of providing the additional set, working alongside key EC senior management and depot staff. A project office was set-up as a neutral ‘hub’ to organize meetings and interviews and help draw the focus towards a cross-business initiative as opposed to an ‘Engineering’ problem. Acknowledging the considerable work already launched and in progress and the ‘bottom-up’ risk matrix approach, we introduced a ‘top-down’ Assurance Map approach to break down the fleet delivery operation into a hierarchy of building blocks (conditions / rules) that need to be in place in order to deliver 27 sets. The Assurance Map approach enabled us to apply our own assessment along with the expertise of the EC team to gauging the weighting (criticality) of each condition / rule and the probability of its being achieved, in order to determine a notional probability of delivering the additional set and, importantly, highlight the building blocks that were most jeopardising EC’s success. We assembled the Assurance Map securing workshop input from the EC team.


The EC team is already highly experience and competent in consistent service delivery of the IC225 fleet and in reviewing and improving its own processes. However the role performed by IPEX enabled this internal review and improvement activity to be presented for general scrutiny in an independent assessment of the capability and readiness of EC for delivering the additional set. We also were able to place the EC initiative in context against the inherent challenges of the fleet operation and the age of the fleet and the degree of ‘stretch’ constituted by this objective (compared with other typical fleet operations). Our findings and conclusions, particularly the graphic trail provided by the Assurance Map served as a vital decision support tool for EC in determining whether to make this critical timetable commitment at this time.