The implementation plan of the implementation phase of the Digirail project is a description of how a modern radio-network-based train control system will be implemented for the Finnish rail network in 2025–2040. The work for the implementation plan of the implementation phase was started in project format in January 2024. What has been accomplished in the first four months and what has the work meant in practice on the team level?

The Digirail project’s implementation phase is the single most extensive phase in the entire project’s life cycle from almost any point of view, and it has been described as one of the most significant milestones in Finnish railway history. The implementation plan now under development is like a script for this milestone, in other words, it is a detailed description of how the system entity is being designed, procured, built and deployed.

Last year, a project model was outlined for the implementation plan of the implementation phase, on the basis of which we have started our work on the plan this year. During the past four months, the main theme has been to get started with project work and to outline the project entity.

“The first third of this year has been the first in the line of many years to come with the project for the implementation phase’s implementation plan. Starting an extensive project has meant agreeing on equal operating procedures, engaging in active communication and assigning clear responsibilities to experts and the teams. With regard to these, we will continue to develop our operations in the coming months and years – after all, continuous learning and evaluation of our work are extremely important. I would like to thank the project members for their active feedback. I hope that this level of activity will also continue,” says Saara Haapala, Project Manager.

What practical measures have been taken on the team level to further the project work?

In project work, the most essential thing is to describe what is meant by the implementation of the implementation phase, what parts and entities of work it entails, for example, from a viewpoint of geographical scope, and what kind of an implementation entity is the objective at different points in time. It is imperative to ensure that the objectives and vision of the project guide the specification and preparation of procurement during the implementation phase.

“In practice, this has meant that as part of the implementation phase’s implementation plan work, we have started directing the focus of the project’s higher level objectives closer to the more everyday tasks, and we are taking various measures to ensure that the vision and final specifications are aligned with the objectives. We have also actively collaborated on compiling a shared schedule for the implementation phase, as different aspects of the implementation have been identified to have significant content and schedule interdependencies. We have also reviewed the deployment and timeline of the project at the upper level in 2021 and established that from a project perspective, we are still able to commit to it. The review will be expanded next to examine the viewpoint of the equipment owners,” says Haapala.

The transfer of the lessons learned has also been activated. The transfer of the lessons learned from the EKA phase (the first commercial track section) to the implementation phase is a necessary prerequisite for successful procurement and work during the implementation phase. To this end, a so-called concept for the transfer of lessons learned is under preparation. This concept will provide support to ensure a systematic transfer of lessons learned from the EKA section and, on the side of the implementation phase’s implementation plan project, a systematic adoption and implementation of the lessons learned in the implementation phase.

The focus of the implementation phase’s implementation plan project is about examining the timeliness of the task entities from different perspectives. In order to promote the work entities in a timely manner, the work of the different teams must be aligned beforehand with the work phases, procedures and standards to be followed. These will provide direction for the timely progress towards procurement in the implementation phase.

“Already at the beginning of the work, it was outlined that the preparation of a procurement strategy and a procurement plan complementing the strategy are priority work entities that have an extensive impact on the overall implementation plan. The procurement strategy and plan are very important for the implementation phase’s implementation plan, as they form the foundation and the definition of policy for the phasing and scheduling of the work during the implementation phase.”