HomeRail NewsWhat is Planning and Delivering Safe Work (PDSW)

What is Planning and Delivering Safe Work (PDSW)

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Network Rail is in the midst of rolling out its newly devised planning process, Planning and Delivering Safe Work (PDSW). Much more than just a handful of tweaks, PDSW is a wholesale reform of how infrastructure projects are planned and delivered safely and, ultimately, it makes clear who is responsible.

The East Midlands will be the testbed for the new process this summer before it is extended to all routes by the end of the year.

But how exactly will PDSW change how projects are planned and what role will Safe Work Leaders (SWL) play in it all.

Safe Work Leaders

  • PDSW will create the new role of Safe Work Leader (SWL) – a single, accountable person responsible for safe work, from planning through to delivery.
  • An SWL will be put on every work site, on or near the track, and all safety critical roles will report to their SWL.
  • The role will address concerns over the lack of leadership that sometimes exists and make it clear who is in charge.
  • The SWL will be an employee of either Network Rail or a principal contractor or a contractor who holds a Railway Contractor’s Certificate.
  • SWL roles will be split into three levels to mirror the complexity of work being carried out.
  • The Controller of Site Safety (COSS) role and the Engineering Supervisor (ES) role will remain.


  • PDSW will see the introduction of a new electronic permit tool (Proscient) which will allow the SWL to plan, risk assess, deliver and hand back work more efficiently.
  • It will be the single system used to plan works across the UK.
  • Those who have attained the required competencies will be able to access Proscient through a web browser.
  • The system will be used to issue electronic permits which will put the latest information at the fingertips of the SWL, and provide a single ‘version of the truth’ for greater clarity.
  • Clear, site-specific information plotted on track schematics will give easy access to more detailed information than ever before.
  • Planning works digitally will ensure the plan is fit for site conditions on any given day and enables re- planning on site if necessary.
  • The system will work alongside the existing PPL and ELIPSE systems, not replace them.


Steve Featherstone, Network Rail track programme director, will be giving a presentation on work staging and planning at the Rail Safety Summit on 30 April.


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