High Speed One; High Speed One;

High Speed 1 Control Room Resilience, Kent

How can we improve the resilience of a high speed rail network?

High Speed 1, also known as the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, connects the UK to mainland Europe by running the high-speed rail service from London to the Channel Tunnel on behalf of the UK Government. The company wanted to find out if there was a need for a back-up control centre, in the event of any future mishap. 

Arup reviewed HS1’s existing business plan and assessed the risks to the railway’s continuous safe operation. The potential threats we examined ranged from security concerns to extreme weather, travel disruptions to assorted infrastructure failures, and at the end of the process we provided a comprehensive report including recommendations for action.

We measured the impact of worst-case scenarios in terms of the potential damage to HS1’s reputation, the financial cost, and the effect on passengers. We also made suggestions of suitable locations for a back-up control centre. Ultimately, HS1 used our advice to make the business case for a back-up facility. 

Project Summary


30 operations staff interviewed

2comprehensive staff workshops delivered

62independent risks identified

The human factor

In examining the many risks to a crucial operations centre, we paid special attention to the needs of the operating staff.  We looked at how potential new resilience strategies, such as a back-up control centre, would impact the employees conducting extensive interviews and surveys. The final assessment placed the health and wellbeing of control room staff firmly at the centre of all recommendations. 

Engaging with staff and management

Arup ran two workshops with HS1 staff, one with the senior management team and another with frontline staff. Using our experience of staff engagement we created sets of questions to determine the real issues that the staff face in their daily routines, and prompted valuable discussions on the potential risks and how those risks might affect their working lives. 

For example, if a back-up control centre were to go into operation, how would they reach it and what should the centre comprise beyond the essential control equipment? We then engaged with the senior management team to help them realise the benefits of this comprehensive integrated approach. 


Discerning Risk

Arup designed a customised risk register that was tailored to the needs of HS1. Our team considered all possible incidents that could lead to the forced absence of personnel from the control room. The risk matrix was refined after consultation and was based on likelihood, severity, and expected financial cost to determine the greatest overall risk.

Finally, we delivered a comprehensive and human-centred analysis of the most viable options for a back-up control room. 

The study was delivered on programme and to budget with a series of high quality workshops and recommendations which were endorsed by HS1 and their delivery partners. I cannot comment on the approach and professionalism of Arup highly enough in assisting us in setting a strategic direction ” Chris Lord Head of Safety and Operations Assurance, HS1 Ltd