Transport for NSW – Asset Maintenance Assurance Framework

Executive Summary

Transport for NSW (TfNSW) owns and manages over $145bn portfolio of assets, with a primary focus to deliver safe, reliable, and integrated transport services.  In order to meet organisational objectives and growing service demands, TfNSW engages over 750 Service Providers to operate and maintain (O&M) assets over the life cycle.

Transport set a journey to create an effective assurance capability across the cluster. It initiated this by:

  1. Setting a framework that defines and assembles effective assurance components throughout the life cycle of an Operator & Maintainer (O&M) contract.
  2. Initiating a process of measurement and review of the application of the TfNSW Maintenance Assurance Structure.

The framework was developed in 2016 and signed into operation in 2017.


As an asset owner, TfNSW has a legal obligation to understand and manage its risk profile around the configuration, integrity and safe operation of its assets. TfNSW role is to assure that it has contracted the right partner, with the right competencies and systems and that they are being effectively implemented resulting in effective operational delivery and attaining the full asset life cycle. These activities are completed in alignment with ISO 55000.

Contract periods tend to be much shorter than the asset lifecycles, giving rise to the temptation of sweating an asset for a greater return in a contract period, but shortening its planned full term life.  With an asset portfolio as large and diverse as TfNSW, errors are a certainty of operation. TfNSW focus is on working with O&Ms to make sure errors do not become mistakes by recognizing and managing systemic issues before they become preventable mistakes.  The processes are part of assurance function across the TfNSW asset life cycle (figure 1).

Figure 1: Assurance gateways across the asset life cycle

Asset Maintenance Assurance Framework

Transport for New South Wales is one of the largest asset owners in Australia. Moving towards an outsourced delivery model for its transport operations, TfNSW needed to establish an architecture that arranged assurance activities through the life of an asset and also through the life of a contract, which could be two very different periods.

The key trigger for this was the understanding that, whilst the operation and maintenance of assets could be outsourced, the risk, safety and legal obligations of an asset owner could not. In short TfNSW needed to be an engaged asset owner, with an understanding of the integrity of its assets.

The TfNSW Asset Maintenance Assurance Framework describes how TfNSW assures itself that assets are maintained and managed to deliver service outcomes and assets continue to meet the required asset performance targets TfNSW also needs to assure itself that the assets remain fit for purpose and sustainable over the asset lifecycle.

TfNSW has developed a structure across the asset life cycle ensure assurance is performed (figure 2).

The implementation of asset maintenance assurance framework is in alignment with ISO 55000 series standards. The process to develop the framework and continued development is aligned with asset management best practice outcomes:

1) The framework aligns with the TfNSW Asset Management Policy and Asset Management Framework

2) The framework and its associated processes for assurance are applicable across all life cycle stages

3) The process following the framework includes rigorous assurance activities including but not limited to reporting, internal audits and revision of  performance KPIs.

4) The framework specifies the necessary resources and competent personnel for demonstration of assurance, by undertaking asset management activities and operating the asset management

Figure 2: Maintenance Assurance Structure activities

Ingenuity of solution

Prior to the implementation of the maintenance assurance framework the assurance activities were completed by the service providers and adhoc audits were performed by TfNSW. The approach for a consistent assurance framework and corresponding standards available to service providers now aligns goals across the organization.

There was no consistent framework for contractors, Operators and Maintainers or internal TfNSW representatives to assess the state of assets.  TfNSW recognised that this resulted in two main issues:

1) Lack of understanding of the state of TfNSW assets

2) Risks yet to be articulated by O&Ms.

The project implementation and continue improvement is a pivotal piece in the organisations primary focus to deliver safe, reliable, and integrated transport services

Review and Performance Measures

TfNSW realised a need for monitoring the performance of assets on the network. In December 2017, TfNSW published a The Transport Service Provider Asset Management Reporting Standard. The standard aims to monitor the agreed deliverables and effectiveness of asset management within the various contracted O&Ms – this includes measure assurance on asset condition and performance to meet service outcomes. Further, the standard supports a consistent approach to asset reporting across Transport modes to apply appropriate investment decisions across the cluster to manage risk.

It is essential that Service Providers are able to demonstrate that assets are managed effectively and that those assets support TfNSW (the Client) short and long-term service outcomes. This reporting function is a critical part of the TfNSW asset management and maintenance assurance framework to give confidence that assets remain sustainable and expenditure is efficient and effective.

Benefit/Value of the project to the organisation

In alignment with ISO 55000 services the benefits of the framework span across the organization and to cover 750 contracted operations and maintenance contractors.

The benefits of asset management can include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Informed asset investment decisions: reporting and assurance activities on performance allowed for a visibility mechanism for Transport to assess key investment areas for funding this leading to better decision  making to meet service outcomes sustainably.
  • Managed risk: ensuring risk were identified early on in advance allowed collaborative discussion among operators and future plans to address risks were initiated.
  • Improved services and outputs: assuring the performance of assets and continues reviews allowed TfNSW to identify the gaps in strategies leading to impacting service outcomes. The improvement of strategies resulted in better outputs from the service providers.
  • Improved efficiency and effectiveness: reviewing and improving processes and standards in collaboration with operators is proving to be a successful exercise.

The audits and assessments performed as part of assurance activities on various modes allowed for a strategic view across O&Ms that maintained the same/similar assets. E.g. identification of risks and issues associated with bridges along with lessons learnt could be adopted by 4 difference O&Ms. 

This exercise proved to be efficient in identifying a root cause in one issue and implementing initiatives for mitigation/control across multiple modes (heavy rail, light rail, metro, bus, roads and ferry).

With over 750 contracts, the lessons learnt approach proved to be greatly beneficial in better maintenance strategies of long-term whole-of-life planning approach for both O&Ms and TfNSW.

Program Management and Risk Based Approach

The project management of the framework was a collaborative approach amongst multiple TfNSW teams and Operators and Maintainers. Initial identification of asset maintenance assurance requirements requirements referenced ISO 55001, the NSW Treasury Total Asset Management Requirements, the GFMAM Asset Management Landscape, the AM Council’s Asset Management Body of Knowledge and statutory and legislative requirements.

The identification of requirements and building of the maintenance assurance framework development program has itself been based on identification and management of risk. The risks considered have been the issues and inhibitors to long-term sustainability of asset. A risk register has been developed and assessed and action plans identified.

There is a timeline for all maintenance assurance activities that have been planned on a road map. The road map has been communicated through project management plan. Works streams and accountabilities have then been identified against the asset life cycle model.

On a quarterly basis progress the status of the assurance activities are reported into a governance assurance group together with a risk, issues and recommended actions report.

The collaborative effort in establishment of process and standard received positive feedback across the organisation.

Specific contribution made by the nominated team

The Infrastructure Management team has been involved with ensure best practices asset management activities have been implemented throughout TfNSW and cluster. There is incredible enthusiasm for ensure the organsiation implement a whole of life view in all decision making from planning through to disposal. The team is leading the path in alignment with best practices asset management initiatives and has ked the establishment of:

  • Asset Management Framework,
  • Asset Management Policy,
  • Asset Information Policy
  • Asset Management Plan Standard
  • Asset Management Performance Reporting Standard
  • Asset Maintenance Assurance Framework
  • The Asset Management Community of Practices
  • Asset Rationalszation process
  • Maintenance Assurance Audit

The team plays a critical function in assuring that the services procured and assets that are built are able to be efficiently operated and maintained to deliver the desired service outcomes through the Operate and Maintain Contracts.

The team is also responsible for the coordination of asset management key initiatives including strategically ensuring value for money in the delivery of $51.2bn portfolio of works i.e. new ferries, trains, commuter car parks, wayfinding, buses etc., through to the management of the existing $145bn asset portfolio including over 12,000km of rail, 400 stations and stops, 4000+ buses, 30 ferries and more.

The team is continuing on the journey of communication whole of life asset management across the cluster and is currently reviewing the requirements of INSW AM policy implementation across the organisation as well as the cluster.

General comments

Linkage across other Asset Management Activities

The assurance framework and reporting standard link to the overall asset management plan assurance across the cluster.

The information received and analysed throughout the assurance cycle becomes a key contributor to:

  • Development of TfNSW Audit Schedules
  • Development of Asset Integrity Reports
  • Identification of significant items to raise to executive and develop solutions early on.

Communication and Governance

Leadership was key in the effective implementation of the maintenance framework and corresponding standards. A governance assurance group was created to monitor assurance activities across the cluster.  Leadership and commitment from all managerial levels is essential for successfully establishing, operating and improving asset management within the organization. The assurance group created ensured representation across the organisation with the correct membership as well as effective communication of outcomes to executive group

The purpose and outcomes of the assurance working group are to:

  • Share knowledge between members, including audit findings
  • Identify significant issues and risks relating to NSW transport networks, and appropriate mitigation actions
  • Ensure members of the Transport Executive are informed of current and potential impacts to the NSW Transport Network
  • Escalate items to executive level for decision making as appropriate
  • Manage a live register of significant issues and risks to the NSW Transport Network
  • Continuing maturity of Operator and Maintainer Asset Management

The membership of group includes key function representation

  • Cost – Finance and Investment – broadly responsible for overseeing cost (capital and recurrent)
  • Risk – Freight Strategy and Planning – broadly responsible for asset planning and safety, risk and asset assurance frameworks.
  • Performance – Services – broadly responsible for the delivery of service and performance

The outcome of the working group is to articulate to Transport health and executive safety committee ensure there is an overview of the state of assets at a high level and then throughout the business. This as critical in identification of governance  in alignment with ISO 55000 requirements for the effective control and governance of assets by organizations is essential to realize value through managing risk and opportunity, in order to achieve the desired balance of cost, risk and performance

Closer alignment and integration of asset assurance with investment assurance frameworks has facilitated a further move toward whole of life thinking within TfNSW and greater consideration of how to gain confidence in transitioning work across life cycle phases.

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