Network Rail opens biggest railway control centre in the country: Phil Verster and Hugh Bayley MP open York Rail Operating Centre

Friday 12 Sep 2014

Network Rail opens biggest railway control centre in the country

Region & Route:

Millions of passengers are set to benefit from the opening of the biggest railway control centre in the country as Hugh Bayley MP and Phil Verster, Network Rail route managing director, today marked the building’s completion.

The new Rail Operating Centre (ROC) in York is central to plans that will improve train performance and continue to meet growing demand for rail travel. It will benefit millions of passengers who use train services between London King’s Cross and the Scottish border by consolidating all signalling and control operations into a single location.

Hugh Bayley MP today visited the newly fitted-out building and saw the new facilities at first hand. Commenting on his visit, he said: “It is a pleasure to open Network Rail’s new rail operating centre here in York. It is the largest in the country and a huge vote of confidence in York as a strategic railway centre.

“The new centre will ensure that York’s links with the railways are maintained and strengthened. Hundreds of jobs have been created and the state of the art training facilities next door will ensure that future generations have the skills they need to work in the rail industry. The new centre is a great asset to York and to the local economy. I am glad that Network Rail has built the new centre in York and I congratulate everyone who has made this possible. I hope Network Rail will continue to invest in York.”

Phil Verster, route managing director for Network Rail, said: “The rail operating centre is the largest of just 12 proposed centres across Britain and will bring the expertise and technology we require to improve our control over train services and to make signalling more efficient. The new centre will ultimately control signalling and rail operations on the east coast all the way from King's Cross to the Scottish borders. York is the ideal place for the centre with rail links right across the country. This investment in new technology will contribute significantly to improvements in train service punctuality, increased capacity and will also provice an improved service to passengers.

“This new facility represents a vote of confidence in York as a railway city bringing employment benefits which are vital for economic growth and prosperity in York. We hope that the location of the new facility on the edge of the York Central development site could act as a catalyst for further investment in the area."

In January the ROC will replace the current route control building at the back of York station and will help to free up more strategic land closer to Leeman Road and the National Railway Museum. This will help to support the aspiration to develop the York Central site.

Further locations will migrate into the ROC over the coming years as part of Network Rail’s continuing investment in modern signalling technology. Once fully occupied, around 400 rail people will work there. This will be a combination of Northern Rail, East Coast and Network Rail employees with a maximum of 87 on shift at any time.

Alan Chaplin, service delivery director, Northern Rail said: “This fantastic facility is yet another example of investment into the railway and economy of the north England. The new centre will allow teams from Network Rail and rail operators to work more closely together, making quicker, more collaborative decisions about the operational railway. That will ensure that all our customers will benefit from improved service reliability and performance.”

East Coast operations director Danny Williams added: "The opening of this impressive new facility is vitally important, as we continue our joint efforts with Network Rail to achieve sustainable performance improvements for our customers. Since April we have seen encouraging progress, and we look forward to building on this through a close working relationship with rail industry colleagues based in this imposing new building, the largest of its kind in the country."

Notes to editors

Timeline:

April 2012 – Archaeological dig to reveal and record the site of three former roundhouses. This has been preserved and the new buildings developed on top

September 2012 – building work began on site

January 2013 – New turntable to replace the old engineers triangle on which the buildings stand is commissioned.

March 2014 – Building completion for Rail Operating Centre and Workforce Development Centre (WDC). The WDC is capable of training up to 250 delegates daily. Providing both professional and practical training the centre has an internal 80m track and 150m external track as well as welding and signalling training facilities.

September 2014 – Building fit out complete at the Rail Operating Centre

Autumn – December 2014 – Training for staff

January 2015 – First teams move into the ROC building

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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.

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