The GNGE project included the largest ever level-crossing enhancement programme undertaken by Network Rail (92 crossings along an 84 mile route) and the reconstruction and renewal of 68 bridges – a programme of works adversely impacting on a broad range of stakeholders.
Realising the scale of the communications challenge it faced, Network Rail recruited Cogitamus with the primary objective of reducing risks to the project and avoiding potential reputational damage to Network Rail and the Alliance partners.
Vital to the success of our approach was the early identification of all possible stakeholders for each phase of works – and early engagement with them.
The core of the strategy focused on direct engagement with all 30 communities along the route in an intensive programme of public exhibitions and public and council meetings – and the establishment of a route-wide Key Stakeholder Group. Ongoing communications with a broader range of stakeholders, and the establishment of common protocols and process amongst contractors and sub-contractors, was equally important to the success of the project.
Crucially, our stakeholder engagement programme functioned not only to raise awareness of the project and keep stakeholders informed of planned work phases, but also as a consultative process, and to establish working partnerships where possible. This process helped to identify the specific needs of stakeholders (such as peak periods of economic activity, local events, etc) around which works and mitigation measures could be planned.
During the full period of the project, at least one senior consultant was based – every day – in the GNGE Alliance head office, working alongside the project management team. With the support of our communications and engagement programme the complex project was delivered on time and with a positive community and environmental legacy along the route. Two successful ministerial visits took place. In 2015, the project was highly commended in the National Transport Awards under the Project of the Year Category.
Service elements: stakeholder mapping and engagement, public consultation, message development, event management, crisis management, rapid rebuttal, internal communications, film-making, reputation management.