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Co-Creation of Key Performance Indicators for Rail Infrastructure

Researcher: Wilma Bobbink
Project Duration: February 2013 – January 2017
Project Partner: ProRail

Project Description:

Typically, the rail system shows a performance decrease during maintenance (e.g., loss of availability and safety), but provides an improved performance level after maintenance. Downstream stakeholders of ProRail such as governmental bodies and freight carriers demand a reliable and available rail system with a minimum of interruptions whereas upstream stakeholders such as contractors prefer the closure of entire rail sections for certain periods of time, enabling more efficient and safe maintenance work. ProRail as rail infrastructure manager needs to align the different stakeholders and their interests. KPIs play a critical role in this regard, since they should reflect the common understanding of ProRail and its stakeholders about the required performance of the rail network. Thus, we are particularly interested in the relationships and interactions ProRail has with its downstream and upstream stakeholders in the process of making performance trade-offs between rail operation and maintenance and defining upstream and downstream KPIs that appropriately address the conflicting and dynamic interplay of the performance requirements of rail operation and maintenance.

We base our research in this WP on the notion of value co-creation which posits that value does not reside in products or services but rather is created through the phenomenological experience of the consumer of these products and services. Manufacturers and service organisations can only make value propositions which the customer makes use of in a given context and, by doing so, the consumer determines and co-creates the actual value. In the context of ProRail it is the rail system with its performance characteristics that offers value to stakeholders and it is the experience of this offer, for example through a reliable journey or efficient maintenance work, which creates actual value for the stakeholders. In other words, the benefits of a well-performing rail system are created at the moment the stakeholders of ProRail interact with that system. Consequently, ProRail and its stakeholders also need to interactively find trade-offs for conflicting performance requirements and translate them into appropriate performance metrics. They need to find what can be called relational value strategies (e.g., role sharing, cross-project alliances) in which the benefits of the railway system are embedded in the interactions between ProRail and its stakeholders and emerge from technical peculiarities of the rail system (e.g., risk of failure, intensity) and the organisational characteristics of the stakeholders (e.g., business and political goals, resources).

In the past, ProRail already interacted with its stakeholders to determine key performance indicators. For example, in 2003 in the OPC+ program ProRail jointly developed indicators with three of its contractors. However, recent research in road maintenance has shown that value co-creation is not restricted to an earlier stage of the relationship when different parties interact and align their expectations about the performance delivery. This process of adapting and aligning continues throughout the relationship to improve the provision of a well-performing infrastructure system and resolve emergent and unexpected problems. We expand on this research and the existing literature on value co-creation by empirically investigating the interactions between ProRail and the upstream and downstream stakeholders in developing KPIs.