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UK’s rail regulator to undertake railway signalling market study

Posted: 27 January 2020 | | No comments yet

The ORR’s study will focus on the level of competition for the delivery of significant signalling projects in a bid to limit Network Rail’s spend on signalling.

Office of Rail and Road to undertake railway signalling market study

Credit: Network Rail

The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has announced the opening of a market study that will explore and evaluate the supply of rail signalling systems.

Signalling systems are, undeniably, an essential part of any railway, keeping passengers safe by ensuring trains do not come into conflict with each other and playing a key role in freeing up capacity on the UK’s congested network. Over a five year period, between 2014 and 2019, Network Rail spent over £4 billion on signalling, a significant spend which is forecast to continue growing in the future.

Head of Competition at the ORR, Tom Cole, said: “The ability for Network Rail to drive value for money when buying high-quality signalling systems is vital to its delivery of a reliable and efficient railway. We want to ensure the signalling supply chain is fair and competitive, and delivering good outcomes for the ultimate benefit of passengers and other users and the taxpayer.”

ORR’s market study will focus on the level of competition for the delivery of significant signalling projects, looking at the strength of competition for tenders, and, whether there are any barriers to innovation or new entrants entering with new technology solutions. 

In particular, ORR will examine whether there is fair and commercially reasonable access to interlocking technology, and other aspects of the installed railway infrastructure base, which are necessary to deliver complex signalling projects in the UK.

The study builds on ORR’s recent work in the signalling market and is part of its efforts to ensure that any competition issues in the supply chain do not slow down or drive up the cost of the implementation of a digitalised railway.

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