Network Rail – Controller of Site Safety Training


Network Rail Training provides a range of safety critical courses for those operating on the UK railways. The Controller of Site Safety (COSS) is a person qualified with Network Rail to ensure safe practice for work occurring on or near rail infrastructure. The primary role of COSS is to setup a safe system of work to protect staff from trains and trains from staff and rail-side activities. The main challenge for this project was that engagement levels with traditional COSS training were low.

Use Case

Brightwave approached Make Real to create VR content for their client, Network Rail.

With low engagement for traditional training methods, this highly safety-critical course and role was an ideal candidate for introducing VR to the training mix of Network Rail. A blended learning environment was created, where the objective was to enable a team of four COSS trainees to work collaboratively, with one in VR and the others directing.

Four scenarios were covered: placement of spotter lookouts, in clear and reduced-visibility conditions, plus two emergency scenarios. The emergency scenarios required the trainees to follow correct procedures to ensure safety of the maintenance gang and the line.


Network Rail had already procured 75 VR-Ready laptops and Windows VR headsets, which Make Real deployed the training content onto, before delivering to multiple training locations nationwide.


The project followed our standard 4D approach (Discover, Design, Develop, Deploy) with Make Real designers working closely with Network Rail SMEs, to understand and define the learning outcomes before the development could begin. Each of the four training scenarios were mapped to learning objectives, with a storyboard created to define user flow, interactions and assessment criteria.

The VR environment created was based on a one mile stretch of rail track from a real world location. Satellite terrain elevation data was combined with Google Earth and hand-collected imagery, to ensure the track topography was as realistic as possible.


Network Rail submitted the project to the Learning Technologies Awards 2020 under the category ‘Best Use of Simulations and Virtual Environments for Learning’ and on November 18th 2020, it was selected as gold winner.

The judges statement reads: “This submission demonstrated great rigour in the decision to use simulation. That rigour was demonstrable throughout the design process. All the judges were impressed by the quality and authenticity of the VR solution simulating the changing on-track conditions which must be assessed for safety of workers on the track. The judges approved of the application of VR within a blended learner experience. With strong, well presented data meeting all the criteria this submission warranted the top award despite a very strong field of contenders in the category this year.”

Key Facts
Date Deployed
Windows VR
Key Features
Pre-determined VR hardware platform
Deployment at scale
Realism of environments

Get in touch

We’re always happy to talk to you about how immersive technologies can engage your employees and customers. If you have a learning objective in mind, or simply want to know more about emerging technologies like VR, AR, or AI, send us a message and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.