Delivering the first major digital railway - Network Rail procurement launched to find train control partner for route digital transformation: Delivering the first digital railway

Tuesday 4 Sep 2018

Delivering the first major digital railway - Network Rail procurement launched to find train control partner for route digital transformation

Region & Route:
London North Eastern & East Midlands

Network Rail is seeking a partner to help deliver the first major inter-city digital railway on the East Coast Mainline (ECML). In an entirely new way of working, the organisation’s London North Eastern and East Midlands (LNE & EM) route is looking to team up early, and on a whole life basis, with a technology provider to work together on designs, plans, phasing, costs and realising benefits.

The selected supplier will play a key part in the development and deployment of the European Train Control System (in-cab signalling) on ECML, starting 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 the 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.”

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. We are setting a standard for how digital railway is deployed and a new generation of partnerships are established.”

This section of railway has a once in a generation alignment of opportunities to deliver a cost-effective digital railway transformation. 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, or are soon to come into service, on the route will be fitted with digital in-cab signalling technology

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 Mainline. 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% 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 and 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.”

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

Notes to Editors

Procurement has been launched to appoint a digital railway train control partner to deploy the European Train Control System (ETCS) starting on the southern end of the East Coast Mainline.

 The single supplier framework is worth up to £1.8bn with a duration of up to eight years

 The award is expected to be made in the spring of 2019.

 The procurement is being carried out on an industry outcome and whole life basis as the best approach for procuring technology capabilities for the Route Business

 70% of passenger trains covering ECML south will be fitted with ETCS as a result of government procurement of new trains which aligns with a once in a generation renewal cycle creating a compelling case for a renewals led digital deployment programme

 A third of UK population live within 20 miles of an ECML station – over 40% of UK GDP comes from that grouping. Connects communities that contribute over £570bn per year to UK’s economy

 ECML connects 8 large cities and carries approximately 130 million passenger journeys annually

 ECML links growing centres in finance, business services, life sciences, biotech, tourism, energy, and manufacturing

 ECML is a mixed traffic railway with stopping commuter services in the south, long distance high speed services across the route and carries 58 million tonnes of freight each year (c6.9 million lorry loads)

 Network Rail’s Digital Railway Strategy was launched by the transport secretary in May 2018.

 Digital railway is a cross industry initiative to transform the rail network for passengers, businesses, and freight operators, introducing modern signalling to increase capacity, reduce delays, enhance safety and drive down costs. ETCS is an in-cab signalling system that allows trains to run closer together, safely and to travel at their optimal speeds and braking distances.



Contact information

Passengers / community members
Network Rail national helpline
03457 11 41 41

Latest travel advice
Please visit National Rail Enquiries

Joanne Parker

About Network Rail

We own, operate and develop Britain's railway infrastructure; that's 20,000 miles of track, 30,000 bridges, tunnels and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations. We run 20 of the UK's largest stations while all the others, over 2,500, are run by the country's train operating companies.

Every day, there are more than 4.8 million journeys made in the UK and over 600 freight trains run on the network. People depend on Britain's railway for their daily commute, to visit friends and loved ones and to get them home safe every day. Our role is to deliver a safe and reliable railway, so we carefully manage and deliver thousands of projects every year that form part of the multi-billion pound Railway Upgrade Plan, to grow and expand the nation's railway network to respond to the tremendous growth and demand the railway has experienced - a doubling of passenger journeys over the past 20 years.

Follow us on Twitter: @networkrail
Visit our online newsroom: