Transitioning from GRIP to PACE

GRIP, which stands for Governance for Railway Investment Projects, has been the framework chosen by Network Rail to deliver rail projects since 2000. But in November 2020 a new programme called PACE was approved and has been developed in an effort to deliver efficiency and improvements across the rail network. 

But what does this mean for the rail industry? Moving forward, PACE will be progressively applied to new live projects unless there is a reason to not do so. This begs the question, are you ready to adopt the new PACE ethos?

Moving from GRIP to PACE? Click here to book a session with one of our team.

Network Rail’s GRIP framework

The GRIP programme developed by Network Rail divides projects into eight separate stages, each of which has a list of activities that must be completed before moving on to the next step with the aim to reduce delivery risk. Gate reviews are conducted to take into account the required documentation that supports the accomplishment of the necessary tasks.

The GRIP stages were:

  • Output definition
  • Feasibility
  • Option selection
  • Single option development
  • Detailed design
  • Construction, test and commission
  • Scheme hand back, and
  • Project close out

Network Rail’s PACE programme

Network Rail standard NR/L2/P3M/201, PACE which stands for Project Acceleration in a Controlled Environment was developed through Project SPEED (Swift, Pragmatic and Efficient Enhancement Delivery) a joint initiative between the Department of Transport and Network Rail. The objective is to increase investment in the rail sector by proving that by drastically cutting costs and project completion times, the industry can become more competitive.

It offers a flexible delivery framework to which sponsors and contractors must make use to guarantee plans for their projects are appropriate. To find the ideal balance between time, cost, and scope of work, this increases focus on the needs of the client or funder.

The programme has five stages:

  • Project initiation
  • Development and project selection
  • Project design
  • Project delivery
  • Project close

To ensure that a project is not moving forward “at risk,” PACE has a phase readiness assessment mechanism in place. The determining factors for this review are defined by the required Level of Control (LoC), which is a risk-based assessment that takes into consideration factors including project technology, design complexity and operational effect.

At each specific milestone throughout the project, an engineering phase gate review is done which follows similar requirements drawn from the project Level of Control (LoC).

What benefits come from PACE?

Simply put, the framework is said to be a lot more flexible than GRIP and will enable more efficient resource allocation among projects. By enabling teams to share lessons learnt from prior work in order to improve delivery, it will also promote more collaboration between teams working on various projects.

> A more straightforward and flexible framework for project management that all departments working on projects at once can use.

> A method for procurement and contracting that is more consistent across disciplines (including works in civil engineering).

> Improved ability to bring focus across all levels of the organisation on risk management.

> Usage of key performance indicators (KPIs) more effectively.

> More efficient communication between the project stakeholders and improved delegation of authority up the chain of command.


According to Chris Rowley, Network Rail’s director of NR2N (Network Rail 2nd Generation), the modifications are intended to establish a more straightforward and uniform approach to project management, which is essential given the current pressures on the railway in the UK.

The capital investment programme director for Network Rail, Mike Wright, stated that the goal of PACE is “to keep the rigour of GRIP but not control projects so excessively that we are adding extra time and cost to the delivery” in an article published in 2021 in New Civil Engineer.

The PACE principle includes giving power and responsibility to the project stakeholders who are most suited to make the decisions in maintaining the rigour and assurance that comes with GRIP but with the speed and flexibility of PACE. Real-time data communication is critical to support this transition making eviFile an effective tool to help realise the benefits of project SPEED and PACE.

eviFile supporting PACE – Gain the competitive edge on CP7 through each phase of your projects.


Win work: Lowest bid, increased margin via eliminating waste, avoiding errors and rework, managing by exception, real-time reporting and automated data handling. 

Deliver work: Simple, quick and automated accurate and quick movement of data, digital evidence-based decision making, rapid remote monitoring of delivery, avoiding errors and managing rework, real-time reporting, quality assured delivery, geo-located digital evidence; rapid and remote sign-off by the designated authority. 

Close work: Automated documentation production, rapid and accurate hand-back; efficient evidence trail; accurate asset data; automated asset register population.

Learn and improve: Automated process rollover into the next project, processes made efficient and fixed during the project, digital transformation experience developed in the team.

Want to learn more about how eviFile has been applying the PACE principles to help you manage your project through the PACE framework? 

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