Systemic workplace culture change at Network Rail (Southern Region)

Post-pandemic culture transformation

The client

Network Rail (Southern Region)

Network Rail (Southern Region) manage over 7,000 trains daily, representing over a third of Britain’s rail services. They operate major stations such as Waterloo, Clapham Junction, London Bridge, Charing Cross, and maintain an extensive infrastructure, including 3,300 miles of track, nearly 5,000 bridges, 895 level crossings, and approximately 8,000 railway signals.

The challenge

Evolving the workplace culture with a focus on safety concerns and pandemic impact:

  • Despite safety investments, safety incidents persisted, raising concerns about organisational culture 
  • COVID-19 brought fundamental changes in working, financial constraints, and shifting service expectations 
  • Geographically dispersed workforce added complexity to implementing change 

Our approach

We applied our award-winning 3-stage culture change methodology as a foundation. We tailored the methodology to the client’s needs throughout the process to ensure we could deliver a unique future-proof culture for Network Rail (SR).


Stage 1: Insight

Understanding & assessing the existing culture, challenges & opportunities

  • Developed a bespoke Culture Assessment focusing on safety & wellbeing, service excellence, values & behaviours, and employee experience 
  • Conducted 65 listening sessions yielding 7,625 insights, identifying culture enablers, inhibitors, and strategic imperatives 
  • Presented results to the Executive team, highlighting red flags, safety concerns, and strategic priorities 

Stage 2: Design

Designing the future culture

  • Developed 3 cultural principles: Show you care; Keep it simple; Listen, learn and improve 
  • Simplified strategic priorities to four key ambitions: Safety, People, Performance/Service, Financials 
  • Created a simplified culture narrative and imagery for communication 
  • Designed cultural immersion events for senior leaders, using an ‘Event in a Box’ approach for wider engagement 
  • Established key lead indicator metrics to track the culture journey over time 

Stage 3: Embed

Making the new culture stick

  • Created a team review and planning workbook for managers to implement changes to ways of working 
  • Established an overall culture change roadmap and program team 
  • Aligned strategic initiatives with culture principles for holistic change 
  • Provided support in mentoring, internal communications, employee brand development, and change leadership training 
  • ‘Assured’ leadership development and frontline safety behavioural programs fully integrated the culture principles 


  • Colleague engagement remained stable despite challenges 
  • Teams actively developing cultural plans and establishing continuous agile change forums 
  • Introduced a toolkit for managers to grow culture within their teams effectively 
  • Redesigned employee lifecycle to align with cultural aspirations 
  • Performance management now centres around the culture principles 

What the client had to say

“Culture Consultancy challenged our norms and assumptions whilst being pragmatic and progressive. Their human approach resulted in mindset shifts and behaviour from front line to Executives. Culture Consultancy, a partner that were a pleasure to work with.”

Sam Chessex, Chief of Staff,  Network Rail (Southern Region) 

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