Case study: Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger – Express 2 Ltd’s bid to revolutionise the railways

Background to company


Express 2 was founded in 2009 and is a privately owned company operating in the UK.  It is owned by a consortium of international institutional investors and fund managers, but its evolution emanates from the UK government’s decision to build a faster rail network, linking the north to the south of England. 

Having given the green light to the development of a new and faster train service, the UK government recently unveiled the proposed route running through some of Britain’s key industrial towns and cities.  Phase one of the project, between Birmingham and London, is anticipated to be ready by 2026, whilst phase two, which extends the line to Manchester and Leeds, is expected to be up and running by 2036.  Critics of the project, including some MPs who sit within the Public Accounts Committee, question the viability of these completion dates and the overall cost to the British taxpayer.

Indeed, the unveiling of the planned route has not been without its contentions.  The British press and some rail industry experts have offered a mixed response to the construction of the line.  Some believe it offers poor investment and that the existing rail network should instead be upgraded.  Electrification of the Swansea to Cardiff line has – for example – just been put on hold and critics believe this is because money has been divested into the Express 2 project.   Local residents, affected by the new route to Leeds and Manchester, are also disappointed, since many will see their homes and communities destroyed by the new infrastructure. 

However, senior management at Express 2 Ltd and the Secretary of State for Transport all agree that the proposed route will encourage economic growth and promote regional businesses outside of the London region.  This type of infrastructure project is believed to be essential in a post-Brexit world and will secure future trade with foreign investors.    The result of the new venture is – of course – yet to be realised.   

Structure and strategic objectives


For Express 2 Ltd, the key business objectives over the next ten years are as follows:


Build and maintain a high tech rail line that is fit for purpose.

Deliver the project on time and to budget.

Maintain rigorous safety standards set by the Office of Rail and Road.

Ensure Express 2 is a benchmark for future engineering and is a recognised brand worldwide.

The portfolio comprises two activities in relation to the allocated case:

• Critically evaluate the existing HRD (Human resource development) &KM (Knowledge Management) processes and practices in your case study organisation with reference to both contemporary HRD theory and practice • Critically evaluate the HRD&KM challenges or problems in your case study organisation with reference to both contemporary HRD theory and practice • On the basis of your analysis, identify the specific training needs in your organisation • Application of the findings or conclusions from relevant literature review and journal articles to the issues presented in the case study

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