Funding and partners announced for UK’s first digital railway

Posted: 20 March 2020 | | No comments yet

Network Rail’s first digital railway takes major step forward with the announcement of Siemens and Atkins as project partners.

Funding and partners announced for UK’s first digital railway

Network Rail has announced that Siemens and Atkins have been named as its partners in the delivery of the East Coast Digital Programme (ECDP) to introduce in-cab signalling on the southern section of the East Coast Main Line, which will work to reduce passenger delays by thousands of hours.

The first £350 million government investment in the ECDP is currently being used to begin the introduction of real-time digital signalling on the route, and to lay the foundations for wider national roll-out.

The ECDP will be the first inter-city digital railway in the UK, fitting trains with the latest in-cab signalling technology and removing old lineside signals. It will mean that signallers will be able to remain in contact with trains continuously, rather than only at fixed points, instructing and responding in real time, reducing delays and significantly improving performance.

Programme Director of the East Coast Digital Programme, Toufic Machnouk, said: “This is a major step forward in transforming the network for the millions of passengers that use the East Coast Main Line. We have adopted a partnership approach across the rail industry to deliver Britain’s first inter-city digital railway, moving away from traditional procurement and bringing together technology providers to set a standard for how digital railway is deployed. This is just the beginning of a truly exciting journey that will eventually see digital signalling improving the railway right across the country.”

The section of the East Coast Main Line, from King’s Cross to just north of Peterborough, currently operates with signalling from the 1970s that is reaching the end of its life and due to be renewed over the next few years. Staged migration to ETCS level 2 with no lineside signals will now take place, with 300 passenger and freight trains to be installed with the new technology.

In September 2018, Network Rail launched a procurement process to find private sector partners to help deliver the programme. It was an entirely new way of working, to team up with suppliers from the start to design, develop and deploy the European Train Control System (ETCS) technology. The procurement has resulted in Siemens being confirmed as the programme’s train control partner (TCP) and traffic management partner (TMP), and Atkins as the rail systems integration partner (RSIP).

Rob Morris, Managing Director of Rail Infrastructure for Siemens Mobility in the UK, said: “We’re thrilled to be appointed both Train Control Partner and Traffic Management Partner for the East Coast Digital Programme. This is a significant step forward for the UK rail industry as we move towards a fully digital railway, and we are delighted to work in partnership with Network Rail to deliver this ground-breaking programme.”

Scott Kelley, Strategic Rail Director at Atkins said: “This is a genuinely game changing transformation programme at the leading edge of rail industry integration. Our team will bring together unique skills and experience to enable the industry collaboration to deliver the East Coast Digital Programme, establishing the gold standard for future delivery programmes.”