The project was completed a year ahead of schedule
According to Juha Lehtola, who headed the project at the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency for nearly three years, the project would normally have taken at least a year longer to complete. However, because of the government’s repair debt programme, the project had a deadline for the end of 2018. When the 59 million euro project was completed in December of 2018, the participants from Welado received the following thanks from the project manager – in capital letters.
“THANK YOU! That sums up my feelings for the Welado RITA-crew well. You have done amazing work for the RITA project, and my foremost feeling is gratitude. It is a privilege to work with such a great group of people. I have received excellent feedback on the project from many sources: the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency, VR, and Finrail. I want to convey these thanks to you, because YOU were key to the success of this project. I have also highlighted your role in this success to these parties.” Juha Lehtola, Project manager, Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency, Projects Division
“After a tough two year crunch, getting that email right before Christmas was encouraging,” remembers Lauri Bois, project manager for Welado. “The group really came together over the tight schedule caused by the funding, and the atmosphere during the project was open and productive. Implementing everything at once required a lot of coordination and communication. The challenges of project organisation often go hand in hand with the challenges of the project itself, and this was no exception. We used Last Planner to make getting everything done at once easier”, Lauri remembers.
Good planning sets the pace
During the project Lauri Bois learned the role of project manager, mentored by veteran Jouni Vidqvist. The RITA project was itself an education in flexible organisation.
“The construction planning was divided amongst two parties with framework agreements instead of pitting the two parties against each other in a bidding war. It was an exceptional solution, but this way we had the expertise of two respected construction planning organisations combined on one project, whose challenges included the introduction of signalling controls in Finland, and working on the main track where passenger trains reach speeds of 200 km/h. Work was scheduled to coordinate with the overall schedule,” explains Lauri Bois.
Because the new control system was constructed alongside the old one, and introduced while traffic was running, the project required solid organisational skills and scheduling down to the minute.
“In a project with a tight schedule, it’s important that the involved parties are committed to completing the project according to schedule, and we made sure of that from day one. We also had a carefully constructed pre-existing plan according to which everyone knew how to get their work done on time,” says project manager Bois. In the same breath, he emphasises the value of a competent client.
A successful project requires firm decision making, strong technical know-how, and people-oriented leadership
“A successful project requires firm decision making, strong technical know-how, and especially people-oriented leadership. Juha Lehtola, project manager for the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency, deserves our thanks in this. The example he set has strongly supported the meeting of these goals,” Lauri praises.
The Siemens and VR Track consortium also participated in the project. According to the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency, the strong commitment to of all parties to the goal and cooperation across organisational boundaries were central to the success of the project. Problems that arose could always be solved together.
“I can’t overstate the importance of cooperation in a project this big. At the work site staff from different contractors worked together with smiles on their faces. I think that’s something few others in the world can claim to have achieved. We were able to create an amazing feeling of togetherness, and everything was done with the success of the project in mind. Welado, who acted as the construction consultant and supervisor for the project, played a big part in this success as well. Excellent construction consulting and comprehensive management on a challenging project,” states Juha Lehtola of the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency.