Helping Network Rail and partners to deliver the Railway Upgrade Plan


Britain’s rail network is the fastest growing and most congested in Europe. In the last 20 years the number of people travelling on the network has doubled, meaning the trains, stations and platforms are dealing with more passengers than they were ever designed for. The Railway Upgrade Plan represents the biggest investment programme in the railways since Victorian times.

We’ve been helping passengers navigate their journeys during these upgrades and raising awareness of the benefits.

The Midland Main Line Upgrade

Network Rail have started the biggest programme of improvements to the Midland Main Line since its completion in 1870. We needed to communicate the benefits of the upgrade to a geographically diverse audience, whilst also managing passengers through a series of interconnected infrastructure improvement projects.


The idea: Transporting the region

A railway upgrade tends to be thought of in quite rational ways: tracks, trains, electrification, platforms and signalling. But it can have a profound and much broader impact for the region on job creation, expansion opportunities for business and a better lifestyle through environmental benefits for line-side neighbours.

The upgrade would not only increase the capacity to transport people and freight, it would have broader effects – transporting the region.


Hyper-localised executions all across the line

We worked closely with media partners to create highly targeted executions aimed at a variety of geographically diverse audiences across the region.


One central landing page

For a seamless communication journey, we built an interactive web app that was embedded within the Network Rail website, allowing our audience to explore the benefits of the upgrade.


Derby’s got the green light


As part of the upgrade we had an immediate job to do in and around Derby, with the major Derby Resignalling project taking the station out of use for 2 months during the summer.


“I was dreading the work starting at Derby and my routine being affected. I shouldn’t have been so worried. At all times I have been kept informed, looked after by smiling, friendly staff and travelled in a luxury coach to my destination. I can’t say that I will be sorry when the work is complete but it is nowhere near as bad as I was expecting.” 

Passenger quote

The results

Research conducted by Transport Focus

75% of passengers surveyed were aware of the infrastructure upgrade before starting their journey, with 56% satisfied with the information provided


The Brighton Main Line
Improvement Project

300,000 people use the Brighton Main Line every day. Those passengers have suffered years of below par service, partly as a result of degrading infrastructure. The planned improvement work was a key part of a £300 million government-funded programme to tackle delay hotspots and boost the reliability of the line. We needed to ensure travellers were well informed about the closures required to do the improvements.

The idea: The Coastal Upgrade

The work was concentrated on a section of line between Three Bridges and Brighton and Three Bridges and Lewes. We needed an idea which was routed in that part of the country – so Sammy the seagull was born. A charming and relevant spokesperson (or spokesgull) for the entire coastal upgrade.


Sammy the seagull was created as a flexible CGI model with the help of the wonderful team at Smoke & Mirrors London




Sammy was everywhere during the period leading up to the closures. We developed a suite of poses and assets that could adapt to suit the messaging within a visually impactful construct.

blue brighton banner.jpg

Messaging evolved as the works got closer


Experiential activity by Network Rail at key stations across the Brighton Main Line


The results

Research conducted by Transport Focus

88% of passengers surveyed were aware of the planned improvement works with 47% knowing a great deal about the project



The Thameslink Programme campaign won the Government Communication Service (GCS) campaign of the month and was a finalist at the CIM Awards.

We also helped Network Rail and South West Trains with implementing the transformation of London Waterloo – you can see a dedicated case study here. Alongside our upgrade work we helped with highly effective safety campaigns for both Level Crossings and Electrification.