Following years of intensive development, Network Rail and CIRO have come together to launch three new capacity planning qualifications for use in Network Rail’s internal training programme.

The new qualifications, which will be awarded by CIRO and delivered by Network Rail ‘s capacity Planning Training and Development Team in Milton Keynes, will standardise capacity planning and offer a clear path of potential progression and developmental experience for our community of Operational Planners and Specialists, through the following tiers:


The development journey started back in 2019, with the appointment of Training and Development Manager (Capacity Planning) Carolyn O’Sullivan, who recognised the need for a more robust framework.

Network Rail and CIRO collaborated on a third capacity planning paper to utilise the knowledge of several subject matter experts and to supplement the existing two competencies. Forming the third level means that there’s now a comprehensive training plan that all new entrant planners must complete to achieve the full Level 4 Diploma.

Following a successful pilot scheme of the new paper, discussions began with CIRO, who had received a Royal Charter in 2021, allowing it to award qualifications and enabling it to become the only sector specific standard setting body for rail.

The opportunity plays to CIRO’s strengths of utilising the quality assurance disciplines from its successful EPA service whilst offering a unique, employer led solution connecting this important workforce to professional development and recognition.

Carolyn O’Sullivan, who led the project for Network Rail, explained the partnership:

“By collaborating closely and harnessing our collective expertise, Network Rail and CIRO have created something which will enhance the training experience of our Operational planners, and ultimately raise the standards for our organisation and wider industry. Our teams have worked hard over the past few years to bring this to reality and were delighted to see the first Operational planners and Specialists coming through the programme”.

The first certificates (level 2 and 3 certificates) will be awarded during the Autumn as our Operational Planners and Specialists complete the course and competencies. Thanks to the success of the programme, Network Rail and CIRO are currently looking at further opportunities for collaborative training product development.

For more information on how a partnership with CIRO can help your organisation with specialised training and development solutions, visit: