CrossCountry operates the most geographically extensive passenger rail franchise in Britain, linking England, Scotland and Wales. Managing 118 stations, its services run on radial routes from Birmingham New Street. CrossCountry routes include the longest journey covered by a single train anywhere in Great Britain: the 772 miles from Aberdeen to Penzance.
CrossCountry has 1,700 employees based at locations across Britain and is part of the Arriva Group, one of the largest transport service operators in Europe, which is itself owned by Deutsche Bahn AG, a leading worldwide provider of transport and logistics services.
CrossCountry started using the EFQM Excellence Model with a self-assessment in 2011. Following that exercise, the organisation felt it was mature enough to apply for EFQM Recognised for Excellence, and successfully gaining certification in 2012 was made a core business objective. The rationale for this was to obtain formal recognition for the strides made in the first 5 years of the franchise’s operation. CrossCountry also wanted to understand what further advancements could be made in the quest for continuous improvement.
Human Resources Director, Maria Zywica, was designated as the champion of the submission bid, with Business Improvement Project Manager, Steve Scott, appointed to lead the project. Maria and Steve were trained as EFQM Excellence Model assessors, which helped to hasten their understanding and application of the Model. They both undertook visits to every part of the business to record and document successes. Due to the large number of suitable approaches they encountered, the difficulty came in deciding what to include and where to fit it within the Model’s framework.
Powerful and enlightening outputs
They discovered that one of the powerful and enlightening outputs from working with the Model was that, as the project progressed, they became better informed of where gaps existed. Such was this self-awareness that when the assessors provided their feedback on areas for improvement, there were no ‘shocks’.
Innovation, partnership and a motivated workforce were a few of the areas which gained plaudits from the assessors. Gaining external acknowledgement for this innovation and providing a consistent approach to process management are areas of focus for further improvement.
CrossCountry became the second Arriva train company to gain EFQM Recognised for Excellence recognition, and the first to do so at 5 star level, with several others now undertaking the certification process. For Arriva, the importance of all of its train companies achieving EFQM Recognised for Excellence status is that it demonstrates consistency across the group, while also providing opportunities to share performance improvement best practice.
Managing Director, Andy Cooper, said: ‘We are delighted to have achieved five stars at our first try at certification. This achievement is testimony to the hard work, commitment and dedication of everyone at CrossCountry over the last five years and reflects our drive to deliver continuous improvement and customer service excellence.’