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How can transport operators make the most of HS2?

Thursday 7 May 2020 Workforce Management

By Ollie Watson

The HS2 project has been subjected to much public wrangling, but whatever your view on the project, it is planned to be delivered and it is, therefore, prudent for transport operators and haulage firms to start considering the benefits that they may be able to derive from it. Away from the opinion pieces, there are efficiencies that can be unlocked and emissions that can be reduced at the individual firm level.

According to a Department for Transport Rail Freight Strategy, when HS2 opens, it will allow an extra 144 freight trains per day to be deployed across the rail network, carrying over 2.5 million lorries worth of goods every year. Transporting freight by rail, rather than road, reduces CO2 emissions by some 76%. 

Put simply, HS2 will mean rail will need to be considered by all when moving their goods up and down the country. It will enable more firms to manoeuvre more goods at quicker speeds. The attraction is obvious.

Managing demands

With many eyes already cast on HS2, the smooth running of the service will be essential. Rail operators are already well versed in managing the twin demands of passenger and freight services. When it comes to HS2, ensuring the correct scheduling and workforce management solutions are in place will be essential, on the part of the rail operator and the firms transporting their goods on the line.

Staff management will play a vital role in ensuring that firms and operators get the most from HS2. Understanding staff working patterns and ensuring that the appropriate people are in the right places will underpin the successful delivery of the service. For those using HS2 to transport their freight around, ensuring that their own logistics are in place to make the right deliveries and collections to and from the service will inform their understanding of the benefits of utilising HS2.

Environmental impact

If HS2 will save 2.5 million lorry journeys per year, what are the benefits of this to individual firms? Knowing how many lorry journeys it will save your firm, for example, will help to promote your green credentials and monitor the environmental impact of adjusting the journey your freight goes on.

This is all about improving scheduling of staff and resources. If a lorry is being taken off one leg of a journey, how can it be recommissioned to improve capacity and turnaround times? With more goods being transported in and out of two major hubs, where will your staff resources need reallocating to?

Whilst HS2 is a long way off, the ability to gain better insight, scheduling and data analytics about your staff and network exists now, meaning that you can be better prepared to take advantage of future infrastructure improvements when they are presented.

Getting ahead

Alongside the topic of improvements, advancements in engine technologies will result in greater fuel efficiencies going forward, with the introduction of hybrid and electric vehicles gaining speed. If firms are to utilise infrastructure such as HS2, this will result in shorter journeys for road transportation, bringing the prospect of using different vehicles into the equation. Elements such as knowing how long each journey is, in terms of time and distance, as well as understanding fuel consumption, will make analysing such decisions more straightforward.

Transport and haulage operators can gain oversight and develop analysis into their operations now. By operating scheduling, competency management and staff management from a central system, it is possible to develop such insight and make informed decisions in the face of future developments.

HS2 will deliver increased haulage capacity on the UK’s rail network – planning ahead is essential

How can transport operators make the most of HS2?