Britain’s first digital railway takes major step forward as funding and partners announced: Digital Railway

Friday 20 Mar 2020

Britain’s first digital railway takes major step forward as funding and partners announced

Region & Route:
Eastern: East Coast

Network Rail has confirmed Siemens Mobility Limited and Atkins as its partners in a major programme to introduce in-cab signalling on the southern section of the East Coast Main Line – a scheme that will reduce passenger delays by thousands of hours.

The partners will play a critical role in delivering the East Coast Digital Programme (ECDP). The first £350 million investment in the ECDP by the government is already being used to begin the introduction of real-time digital signalling on the route, and lay the foundations for wider national roll-out.

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

Network Rail launched a procurement process to find private sector partners to help deliver the programme back in September 2018. 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 concluded with Siemens Mobility Ltd confirmed as the programme’s train control partner (TCP) and traffic management partner (TMP), and Atkins as rail systems integration partner (RSIP).

Toufic Machnouk, programme director of the East Coast Digital Programme, 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.”

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 and Atkins to deliver this ground-breaking programme.”

Scott Kelley, Strategic Rail Director, 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.”

The section of the East Coast Main Line, which covers from King’s Cross to just north of Peterborough, currently operates with 1970s signalling 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.

Notes to editors

The East Coast Digital Programme (ECDP) is a cross-industry initiative that will help transform he performance of the East Coast Main Line (ECML) – one of the network’s busiest and most important economic routes.

A third of the population lives within 20 minutes’ reach of an ECML station, and together produce 41% of the total UK’s GDP. The line carries in excess of 80 million passenger journeys, and tens of millions of freight tonnes worth £30bn, every year.

Following the completion of the procurement process launched in September 2018, the three private sector partners have been announced as:

Train control partner (TCP): Siemens Mobility Ltd
Estimated value of frameworks: £900 million
The TCP will play a central role in deploying and sustaining a high-performance train control infrastructure based on the European Train Control System (ETCS), and incorporating design, build and maintenance of ETCS together with associated infrastructure for the lifetime of the assets on the ECML. The role includes the technical integration of an end-to-end system, including with other existing or proposed systems. The contract covers more than the ECDP.

Traffic management partner (TMP): Siemens Mobility Ltd
Estimated value of frameworks: Lot 1 – £108 million; lot 2 – £72 million
The TMP has a wider remit than just East Coast Digital Programme deployment, working in both the Eastern and North West and Central regions, developing traffic management for the TransPennine route as well as the East Coast Main Line. Traffic management plays an important role in improving performance for passengers, helping to predict and prevent conflict and re-plan the timetable to reduce delays in the event of disruption.

Rail systems integration partner (RSIP): Atkins
Estimated value of frameworks: £55 million
The RSIP will support the route and coordinate industry to deliver the ECDP. They will be responsible for managing the integration activities and establishing a collaborative relationship with the route, its technology partners (TCP and TMP) and stakeholders including government, passengers, freight operators and train owners. They will also provide governance and assurance to the programme.

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Paula Whitworth

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