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Developing the Rule Book app

​​​​​​​​​​​We are developing a new 'app', enabling industry to use the Rule Book in a more practical and efficient way.

With 120,000 users, the Rule Book​ is a critical reference tool for the operational railway in Britain and is also used as the basis for rules developed for other railway administrations around the world.  It contains sets of clear instructions which rail staff must follow in certain safety critical scenarios involved in railway operation.

Rule Books are practically as old as the railways themselves, individual companies producing their own rules before being encouraged to adopt shared, standardised rules in 1876.  Today's Rule Book is just the latest incarnation and improvement on earlier editions.

Currently, rail staff receive paper copies or access pdf versions from the RSSB website. However, people are now much more reliant on the internet as their main source of information, with over 70% of UK adults owning a smartphone and more than half using a tablet.  Increasingly, rail staff are equipped with mobile devices to help them do their job.

The rail industry is keen to seize the opportunity that modern technology can offer to enable the Rule Book to be more easily accessed and updated.

Our objective is to develop a new Rule Book app to meet the following requirements:

  • To enable users to access the Rule Book on compatible Windows, Android and IOS-run devices regardless of whether they have access to the internet or not
  • To provide a fit-for-purpose product that provides members with the opportunity to stop providing hard copies of the relevant Rule Book modules or handbooks to their staff
  • To improve the current usability of the Rule Book, with more responsive design, and presented in a way that suits a range of adult learning styles
  • To provide more detailed intelligence about how the Rule Book is used, and allow updates and briefing notes to be uploaded and updated centrally 

This will mean the Rule Book can be delivered in a much more effective and efficient way, with potential long term savings on procurement and printing costs.  Digital solutions tend to be much more intuitive and sensitive to different learning styles, and it will be easier to manage updates.  This is all on top of the obvious benefit that the Rule Book will be fully accessible and searchable 24/7 from a smartphone or tablet.

We have appointed Mekon External link to help develop the Rule Book app for us, which is expected to be available in 2017.  Work is already underway on a prototype which will be tested in autumn 2016 with a sample of staff from across the industry and from a variety of job roles. This will inform how the app can be developed into an industry-wide product. 

We will be providing regular updates about progress, and will be engaging very closely with member companies on the roll out of the end product. 

This work is supported by industry through the Traffic Operation and Management​ standards committee​, which means infrastructure managers and contractors, train and freight operators are all behind the concept and keen to reap the benefit of a more modern Rule Book, fit for the 21st​ century railway.

If you have any questions about the Digital Rule Book programme, please get in touch.

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