Henry Smith MP was joined by representatives from Network Rail, Southern and Crawley Borough Council to formally open the state-of-the-art rail operating centre (ROC) earlier today (7 January).
The rail operating centre at Three Bridges is one of 12 which will eventually operate the entire rail network across Britain, replacing more than 800 signal boxes and other operational locations currently used to control trains.
All 12 centres will have more advanced signalling tools and technology that will help reduce delays, improve performance, increase capacity, provide better information to passengers and offer better value for money for the British people.
Crawley MP Henry Smith said: “I’m proud that Crawley is the new home of rail control for much of south east England. Modernising the railway by making the signalling more efficient and reliable, in addition to integrating Network Rail’s control centre to work more closely with Southern to resolve delays more quickly, will really help to improve the passenger experience. This investment in Three Bridges represents a significant enhancement for the travelling public and a real boost to the local economy.”
Tim Robinson, Network Rail’s route managing director for Sussex, said: “This new rail operating centre, and the nearby new Thameslink depot currently under construction, means that Three Bridges will be one of the most important places on the railway map in the south east.
“When fully operational, it will help to boost performance, increase capacity and provide a better level of service to passengers during periods of disruption.
“As well as helping to create a better railway, it will also help boost the local economy as several hundred jobs will be relocated to the town, giving a vital boost for local shops and amenities.”
Chris Burchell, managing director of Southern, said: “Working together in this new state of the art operations centre I am confident we can make some real strides in delivering the more reliable, efficient service we have all been working towards.”
The new rail operating centre is part of a transformation of the railway in Three Bridges which will see it firmly placed on the national railway map for many decades to come. Eventually it will control all of the railway from London Victoria and London Bridge stations, along the length of the Brighton main line to Brighton and the south coast, and large areas either side in both Sussex and Surrey.
One of two maintenance depots for the new Thameslink trains is being built in Three Bridges and a number of improvements to the station and subway have recently been completed by Network Rail and Southern to provide better journeys and facilities for thousands of passengers.
Construction of the rail operating centre was carried out by Spencer Rail on behalf of Network Rail.
Notes to editors
The picture shows (from left): Tim Robinson, Network Rail's route managing director for Sussex; Crawley MP Henry Smith; Councillor Bob Burgess, Mayor of Crawley; Chris Burchell, managing director of Southern.
About Network Rail
Network Rail owns, manages and develops Britain’s railway – the 20,000 miles of track, 40,000 bridges and viaducts, and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations (the largest of which we also run). In partnership with train operators we help people take more than 1.6bn journeys by rail every year - double the number of 1996 - and move hundreds of millions of tonnes of freight, saving almost 8m lorry journeys. We’re investing £38bn in the railway by 2019 to deliver more frequent, more reliable, safer services and brighter and better stations.