One of the UK's largest technology upgrades of 2005 has been completed by Network Rail. The national rail infrastructure operator moved 17,500 users, in more than 460 locations, to the latest versions of Microsoft Office applications running on Windows XP SP2.
The eight-month programme was completed with no downtime to the business, on time and under budget, the company said.
In addition, about 8,000 new PCs and laptops were distributed and 490 applications were tested and rolled out to users. This represents a 50% cut in the number of applications on Network Rail's desktops.
Joe van Valkenburgh, Network Rail's director of information management, said, "This was a challenging programme. We found a way to do it by having the right team and partners, with a clear objective, empowerment and proper support. We are already seeing the benefits by way of a reduction in the demand on our support teams."
The successful company-wide XP implementation followed the migration of 6,000 users, who joined Network Rail in 2004 when thousands of maintenance staff outsourced under previous rail operator Railtrack were brought back in-house, onto a new XP-based infrastructure.
Iain Coucher, Network Rail's deputy chief executive, said, "Network Rail cannot be successful without becoming more IT-literate, information-dependent, and IT-enabled on a massive scale. The success of our information management team and its partners in tackling large-scale IT challenges helps our business move forward more smoothly and efficiently. The XP roll-out was an exemplary project in this respect."
Network Rail used Siemens Business Services to set up new desktops and laptops and handle disposals and asset control.
Hewlett-Packard worked with Network Rail's IT team and its outsourcing supplier Atos Origin to design the XP Professional and Office build for the desktop. Consultancy Afiniti provided communications and project management support.