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Looking to a future with customers at the forefront

Transport | Strategic Planning at Northern Trains

Growth Needs Assessment

Initially set a 100-day review after coming under public ownership, train operator Northern re-established a full and reliable train service, grew capacity and delivered numerous improvements for passengers.

The 100-day plan enabled a bottom-up review of what was required to make the business work better and to make sure the customers were at the centre of the business. But Northern wanted to go beyond just that 100-day plan and look at a destination for the organisation in the future – building a strategy that would outlast any particular ownership structure.

“I think we can get to a place where the quality of Northern’s strategic planning is continuing to be acknowledged, recognised, and held up as best practice, and I think in doing that we can add some real value to the industry and the evolution of the industry in the months and years ahead.” 

Managing Director, Northern Trains

Our approach

We quickly integrated with Northern leadership teams and worked alongside them and introduced Journey4’s parallel planning principle. We worked on a vision for the future, to develop a business strategy looking at short, medium and long-term business objectives.

The Journey4 team introduced a customer driven model ­to help organise strategy development to really put the customer at the heart of our planning and position a suite of strategies that were needed to develop to drive better customer outputs. 

As part of its transformation Northern created a steering group of senior leaders to work on the strategies which Journey4 worked with to build the capability of the team to be more strategic.

Impact of our work

We developed a suite of strategies that delivered on the long-term objectives of Northern Trains. We developed the strategic capabilities of the senior leadership team and delivered strong levels of engagement with the strategies through establishing strategy working groups from a cross-section of managers across the organisation. 

The strategies formed a blueprint for how Northern wanted to develop their organisation and provided the structure for the short-term business plan and budget submissions to DfT.