What is ISBeRG ?
ISBeRG is an international benchmarking group for suburban rail operators. ISBeRG’s principal aim is to identify and share best practices in a confidential environment. The group is owned and run by the members themselves and managed by the Railway and Transport Strategy Centre (RTSC) at Imperial College London. The members gather twice a year at meetings hosted by the member railways around the world and stay in ongoing contact through the group’s secure website and online forum as well as through the project management, benchmarking analysis, and coordination provided by the RTSC.
The primary objectives of ISBeRG are to:
- Share knowledge and identify best practices in a confidential environment
- Support members in achieving their operational, environmental and strategic goals
- Develop systems of measures for use by management and to establish railway best practice
- Prioritise areas for improvement and support decision-making
Collaboration, independence, speed, and confidentiality are key principles of the group and are central to its success.
- Collaboration: Members help each other to improve their railway. The benchmarking process that supports this requires unimpeded information exchange between railways.
- Independence: The group is owned and run by the members themselves, with project management, benchmarking analysis, and administration conducted by the RTSC at Imperial College London. This independence permits the group to pursue its own agenda and focus its efforts in areas of most immediate interest.
- Speed: The size of the group and the online interactions through the group’s website permit quick responses for many queries.
- Confidentiality: ISBeRG is based on an open and honest data and information exchange within the group, but not to outside parties. Members are happy to see both their strengths and weaknesses openly so that they can help each other improve.
Following expressions of interest from several operators, in 2009 the Railway and Transport Strategy Centre (RTSC) at Imperial College London agreed to establish an international benchmarking group for suburban railways. The group was established based on the 18 years of experience gained by the RTSC through the successful management of the CoMET and Nova metro benchmarking groups and the International Bus Benchmarking Group (IBBG).
In January 2010, the group’s development phase commenced, with founding members from New York (MTA Metro-North Railroad and MTA Long Island Rail Road), Oslo (NSB), and London (London Rail). JR East in Tokyo also joined as a founding member in March 2010.
In November 2010, Phase 1 of the benchmarking process started, with the founding members joined by five additional railways: BART in San Francisco, CPTM in São Paulo, the DB Regio S-Bahn in Munich, S-Tog in Copenhagen, and Metro Trains in Melbourne. Early in 2011 Sydney CityRail joined Phase 1 as the 11th member. In December 2011 Phase 2 of the benchmarking progress began, and in the following six months members were joined by FGC in Barcelona, Queensland Rail in Brisbane, and MTR in Hong Kong. The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) joined in Phase 3, with their Cape Town MetroRail operations. The group now contains 14 suburban railways in 13 world cities, covering five continents; Phase 6 began in December 2015.