Arc Infrastructure’s entire workforce has played a critical role in ensuring the continued safe operation of our rail network to support our customers and Australia’s economy through the challenges presented by the pandemic.
As the Western Australian government has lifted many of the restrictions put in place to stop the spread of COVID-19, Arc has started to return to a more ‘normal’ way of working, while ensuring this happens in a COVID-safe way.
Continuing to operate throughout the pandemic has provided Arc the opportunity to stress test IT capacity, implement remote working schedules, enhance hygiene practices, and encourage the use of multiple modes of communication.
Arc has worked with customers and industry bodies like the Chamber of Minerals and Energy WA and the Freight and Logistics Council WA in recent months to ensure the State’s supply chains remained strong and robust. The movement of freight is extremely critical, with around 70 per cent of WA’s food entering the state by rail.
Governance and Risk Lead, Assurance and Resilience Tom Foskett said he believes Arc will emerge from the pandemic in a stronger position.
“Should a second wave occur in WA, Arc is prepared to respond even more quickly to a disruption related risk event, thanks to the tangible and intangible benefits that have been derived from the response to the pandemic – ultimately Arc is now more agile, flexible and capable,” Tom said.
Tom said there were three key principles that have enabled Arc to continue its operations relatively unhindered throughout the pandemic:
A de-centralised workforce that replicated works delivery and maintenance services across multiple regions and has the ability to back-fill and cover other regions as required.
Network Control was quickly identified as a critical service to keep trains running on the network. To mitigate the risk of transmission, Arc went from two permanent Network Control locations to four.
In addition to Network Control, we were able to transition the entire head office to working from home very quickly. While there were some challenges associated with remote working, we were able to maintain full operating capability and support the business to ensure operations and maintenance teams could focus on being as safe as possible while still delivering services.
Robust governance and communication
Setting up the COVID-19 Working Group was key to ensure timely and effective decision-making. This, coupled with following a standardised methodology through Arc’s Business Continuity Management System (BCMS), enabled the Executive and Leadership team to communicate and develop the operating principles for Arc and its employees. Establishing a clear pathway for raising issues, actions and decisions was integral to the response.
Arc has implemented a coordinated return to ‘normalcy’, however, in a world where the risk of transmission of COVID-19 remains prevalent and a sensitive area for individuals and the community, the ‘new’ way of working is something that the Leadership Team and Working Group are working hard to define.
Tom said he expected the new COVID-safe measures to be in place for some time.
“Physical distancing and hygiene are key controls to reduce the likelihood of transmission and will remain in place for some time – the key is appropriateness and flexibility. The balancing act between operational output versus personal safety is something we are constantly striving to get right.
“From my perspective, COVID-19 has lifted the lid on an organisation’s ability to be resilient and has been a fantastic opportunity to challenge traditional ways of working and thinking with regards to the ‘so what’ or ‘what if’ a disruption occurs and ‘what needs to go right’ to continue delivering a safe, reliable and efficient rail network,” Tom said.