The Rule Book is a vital safety document for the UK railway industry. Aligned with the nine Fundamental Operating Principles in the Operational Concept for the GB Mainline Railway (RSSB-GBMR-OC), its modules and working manuals contain the direct instructions and rules for railway staff.

Following considerable work by our National Operations Team to repurpose the content of the rule book making it much more user friendly, we decided the time was right to investigate digitising the Rule Book itself. In 2015, we started to investigate the potential to digitise the Rule Book via an app, giving users access to the Rule Book 24/7 making it easier to consult on-the-go.

Throughout 2017/18, the Rule Book App was trialled by industry to great acclaim and is now available to purchase. Prior to the release of the app, document controllers within each organisation were responsible for briefing their organisations on changes to its content. This process, which took place twice a year, required document controllers to purchase printed copies or print and bind them themselves, release the copies and ensure acknowledgement of the updates through physical signatures of their risk register. Multiplied across industry, this takes a significant amount of time. Thanks to the innovative functionality of the app, individual users can now receive automated notifications of future amendments, immediate access to those amendments and the ability to acknowledge them. Document controllers are notified of those acknowledgements in real time and at the click of a button, using the user analytics report.

The app’s intuitive design also allows:

  • 24/7 access to content (including offline)
  • Faster access to relevant information, benefiting from a search feature that simplifies navigation
  • Consistent explanation of amendments which could also be supported by video or animation in the future
  • The ability to personalise and configure content to better match functional role and competence
  • A favourites area that allows user to create a list of regularly referenced content
  • A personal notes feature allows users to capture personal thoughts
  • Direct contact with RSSB Standards and App Development teams via an in-app email feature

For businesses, the app also allows:

  • Access to a desktop version of the app to allow data collection and reporting
  • The opportunity to influence evolution through, for example, the inclusion of company specific content, such as notices
  • The potential to improve professional learning and development through the inclusion of professionally produced videos and animations included in the app

Taking into account the reduction in costs involved in printing, storing and distributing the printed format updates, the per head savings across track workers, signallers, drivers and guards are, on average, £9.48 per user, per year. For track workers alone, the saving is over £900,000 a year, totalling £4.5m over the course of CP6. That’s not to mention the 83 tonnes of paper (or 2,200 trees) and the associated resources and pollutants involved in producing a paper version of the Rule Book on an annual basis.