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“H00” programme team spirit: the secret to trains that leave and arrive on time

Punctuality, a vital performance factor

Today, 78% of trains leave on time. But trains that leave just 3 minutes late have only a 30% chance of arriving on time. Punctuality is customers’ number one requirement. For them, it is even more important than the fare charged. Punctuality is therefore crucial.

SNCF Réseau and SNCF have set themselves a target of 90% for departing trains by end 2018.

Keeping promises to customers

Train delays are mostly caused by mini-events, which together have knock-on effects on traffic flows. Railways are very complex systems involving a wide variety of different phenomena (allocation of space in stations, sequence of pre-departure processes, etc.). All these factors now have to be rethought.

Every second counts, if trains are to leave on time.

Method: Forward planning and staff training

SNCF Réseau’s action plan is based on the following principles:

  • prevention is better than cure
  • boosting system capacity to avoid the cascading contingency trap
  • creating an unflustered working atmosphere conducive to accountability where network operatives can go calmly about their tasks

“H00”: an approach with 4 mainstays:

  1. Timing train departures in seconds, rather than minutes
  2. Performing simulations to test drive and plan upstream
  3. Revisiting the rules, especially regarding radio alerts
  4. Dispensing more training to operatives in the field

Tools: countdown timers, decompartmentalisation and accountability

SNCF Réseau has four main weapons in its arsenal.

  • "Countdown timers"
    The H00 programme includes countdown timers to orchestrate the sequence of events prior to train departure. The idea is to make successive players aware of their responsibilities when preparing for each individual train departure.
  • Standardisation of tasks
    SNCF Réseau is also standardising and simplifying its processes for faster and smoother execution.
  • Cross-sector team work
    With the H00 programme, everybody will have to learn to see the bigger picture and recognise the knock-on effects of their actions on colleagues. This is what teamwork is all about.
  • Communications
    If operatives are unable to complete a particular task for whatever reason, they must let this be known. Management can then find a work-round so that trains can still depart on time.

Points to remember

  • Punctuality should be as exemplary as safety.  
  • Target for end 2018: 90% of train departures on time (i.e. to the nearest second).
  • The keys to success: simpler processes and individual performance accountability.
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