Network Rail and Cranfield School of Management have agreed an educational partnership between the two organisations.

Network Rail is offering employees in its supply chain operations function a suite of development opportunities provided by Cranfield, including course content relevant to the railway supply chain.

Network Rail owns and operates Britain’s railway infrastructure, they are responsible for 20,000 miles of track, 30,000 bridges, tunnels and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations. Cranfield School of Management is one of an elite group of schools worldwide to hold the triple accreditation of: AACSB International (the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business), AMBA (the Association of MBAs) and EQUIS (European Quality Improvement System).

The partnership will see Network Rail staff take advantage of Cranfield School of Management’s full range of educational offerings. Development of the partnership began in 2018, when Network Rail first welcomed six students of Cranfield’s one-year MSc in Logistics and Supply Chain Management to work on their thesis projects with its supply chain operations teams. Eight more MSc students carried out their projects with the teams this year, covering topics as varied as big data, stock management, materials planning, carbon reduction and lifecycle management.

While the placement programme provides the students with real-life supply chain challenges to develop their experience, Cranfield’s courses are developing the knowledge and expertise of Network Rail’s supply chain operations employees, professionalising the team’s capability.

This September, 20 employees started studying for Cranfield’s PGCert in Supply Chain Practice, while others have begun Cranfield’s Logistics and Supply Chain Management MSc. More options include individual modules from the PGCert and participation in Cranfield’s open five-day Supply Chain Management programme. Alongside those studying at masters-level, one staff member is also undertaking a PhD with Cranfield. In addition, Network Rail Route Services has become a member of Cranfield’s Agile Supply Chain Research Club.

Mike Bernon, associate professor in supply chain leadership from Cranfield School of Management, said: “This partnership is already offering great opportunities for our students. Working closely with Network Rail, they are getting to experience ‘real world’ logistics and supply chain challenges with one of the UK’s largest companies. We are looking forward to furthering our partnership and developing our educational offering together to enhance the skills of Network Rail’s workforce.”

Bogdan Lupu, delivery director for Western and Wales, Route Services, Network Rail, said: “My experience of Cranfield is that it’s about challenges, team work with great people, enjoying an amazing multidisciplinary experience and pushing yourself to the limit. The programme will definitely further develop my knowledge and understanding about supply chain and logistics management.”

Roberta Lowes, programme manager, Route Services, Network Rail, said: “I have been enrolled on the two year MSc at Cranfield since early 2019 and I have just completed the fourth week-long module. So far we’ve covered topics including supply chain strategy, analytical techniques, network design and procurement. “It’s a big time commitment and can sometimes be challenging to juggle alongside work and personal commitments but it is a great opportunity and I have already learned a lot.”

Network Rail staff at Cranfield School of Management
Network Rail staff at Cranfield School of Management