Using scenarios to identify innovation priorities in the UK railway industry

Potter, Stephen and Roy, Robin (2000). Using scenarios to identify innovation priorities in the UK railway industry. International Journal of Innovation Management, 4(2) pp. 229–252.




In the face of increasing uncertainty in market, technology and political/social trends, scenarios have come to be used to explore how an organisation could plan for a range of possible futures.

This paper outlines four scenarios for the future of UK rail transport up to 2010, developed in the run-up to the privatisation of British Rail in the late 1990s. The scenarios, cost-driven, quality-driven, technology-driven and environment-driven, were produced to identify areas of strategic R&D needed to improve rail's competitiveness in the transport market. Each scenario is illustrated by a typical passenger "journey" and leads to a different set of R&D needs and priorities.

The paper concludes with an assessment of the scenarios five years since they were written, in the light of actual developments since UK rail privatisation. This indicates that the focus to date has been on the cost and quality-driven approaches although there may be a shift towards technological and environmental priorities in the next decade.

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