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West Coast Route Modernisation programme

Prior to the formation of Quill Power Communications in 2004, Nigel Barber led the 'communications recovery' of the West Coast Route Modernisation programme as its Head of Communications for Network Rail from 2002 to 2004. During this period, Nigel was responsible for:

The creation of a comprehensive cross industry communications strategy (internal and external) and brand for the programme, endorsed and adopted by all partner organisations and resulting in a change of perception for West Coast from a 'white elephant' to a successful and well managed project. This strategy remained the benchmark for ongoing communications on the West Coast programme through to its completion in 2008;

The creation and management on behalf of Network Rail and the Strategic Rail Authority of a cross industry communications steering group to deliver the strategy;
The management/production of all West Coast related publicity materials using an approved, effective cross-industry brand;

The creation and management of a number of dedicated sub-strategies and campaigns including:

Crewe to Kidsgrove electrification — A dedicated safety related campaign, targeting key stakeholders including schools, businesses and lineside neighbours along the line of route, to inform them of the electrification upgrade and safety implications;

Think Safe, Work Safe — An internal campaign aimed at the entire 9,000 strong West Coast organisation, reinforcing core safety messages;
Stockport remodelling — A specific programme of pro-active communications activity, driven by a localised cross-industry steering group featuring representation from the train operators, local pressure groups, local authorities, GMPTE and business representatives;

TV4 — The creation of a comprehensive sub-strategy aimed specifically at the four-tracking of the Lichfield Trent Valley and successfully implemented through to project completion in 2008, with stakeholder complaints kept to an absolute minimum.

The above included a sustained, strategically planned series of communications, including programmed press releases and events, carefully placed interviews in key publications (e.g. Rail, Modern Railways) and a general strengthening of relations and establishment of trust with the transport press. This change in the project's fortunes and perceptions was best illustrated by the launch of the 125mph railway between Manchester and London, attended by then Prime Minister Tony Blair in September 2004, amid a flurry of positive publicity.

"Nigel was appointed as Head of Communications for the West Coast Route Modernisation programme during a particularly difficult time, as Railtrack had been placed into administration and a revised deliverable scheme was being formulated. The major works required sections of the route to be blocked for up to three months at a time to carry out the works, which presented challenging issues in dealing with stakeholders.

Nigel successfully led a team that turned around perceptions of the media and other stakeholders, with the on-time delivery of the new train service in September 2004 viewed as a great success. Many of his strategies also stood the test of time, continuing to be used throughout the duration of the project. In addition, Nigel was also responsible for effectively managing key messages across the project organisation, via dedicated internal campaigns such as 'Think Safe, Work Safe."

Simon Maple — Network Rail Programme Sponsor, London and South East (Formerly Head of Programme Investment, WCRM, Network Rail)

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