Network Rail procurement launched to find partner for digital transformation

Posted: 4 September 2018 | | No comments yet

Looking for a train control partner, Network Rail are preparing for the deployment of ETCS on the first major digital railway.


Network Rail has announced their search for a partner to help deliver the first major inter-city digital railway on the East Coast Main Line (ECML).

In an entirely new way of working, the organisation’s London North Eastern and East Midlands (LNE & EM) route will collaborate, on a whole life basis, with a technology provider to work together on designs, plans, phasing, costs and realising benefits.

The selected supplier will have a key role in the development and deployment of the European Train Control System (ETCS) on ECML, beginning on the southern end. This first inter-city introduction of modern signalling – which will establish a high performance railway by increasing capacity, improving resilience, enhancing safety and reducing long-term operating costs – will act as a catalyst for further deployment across the route and national network.

Rob McIntosh, Route Managing Director for the LNE & EM route, said: “This is an extraordinary and exciting opportunity that will have a significant and sustained impact on the future of the railway and the economies and communities we serve. We are establishing a route transformation that will bring track and train closer together through the deployment of digital technologies. To achieve this, we are seeking a partner in the truest sense of the word; moving away from traditional input based procurement and instead buying a long-term relationship based on industry outcomes.”

The train control system was last substantially upgraded in the 1970s and will need to be renewed over the coming control periods, and at the same time many of the new trains operating on the route, or are soon to come into service, will be fitted with digital in-cab signalling technology

Toufic Machnouk, Route Programme Director for the LNE & EM route, said: “This is the beginning of a journey and we are seeking this partnership early in the process to develop the best plan for realising a digital railway. This is a route transformation programme that will bring together the operational railway and technology providers to deliver real passenger benefits. We will work together to develop joint solutions and the selected partner will act as our complete delivery agent for the technology and its outcomes.”

The introduction of ETCS on the 100 mile stretch is the first major transformation programme under the digital strategy launched by the Secretary of State for Transport and Network Rail in May, endorsed by the wider rail industry and supply chain.

David Waboso, Managing Director, Group Digital Railway, said: “There is a compelling case for a digital transformation on this southern section of the East Coast Main Line. The big challenge of digital railway is the integration of the infrastructure and rolling stock, and with the need for asset renewal coming at the same time as 70 per cent of passenger trains being fitted, we are presented with a huge opportunity to align track and train in an efficient way.

“The procurement is being done in a radically different way which will build on the key learnings from our Early Contractor Involvement programme. We seek a long-term relationship based on genuine partnership, extending for the whole of the asset life.

“This will bring real benefits for passengers – a more reliable railway, expanded capacity and better information systems for travellers.”