Rail operating centre officially opened in Manchester: The entrance to the new Manchester Rail Operating Centre (ROC)

Monday 21 Jul 2014

Rail operating centre officially opened in Manchester


A new signalling centre which will eventually control large parts of the railway in the north west of England has been officially opened in Manchester.

The leader of Manchester City Council, Sir Richard Leese, was joined by representatives from Network Rail, TransPennine Express and Northern Rail to formally open the state-of-the-art rail operating centre (ROC) earlier today (21 July).

The rail operating centre, near Ashburys station in Manchester, is one of 12 which will eventually manage 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 passengers and taxpayers.

Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, said: “This new centre will be an important part of a major overhaul of the north west's rail network, vastly improving the service and making it easier for tens of thousands of people to access jobs in and around Manchester using public transport.”

Jim Syddall, Network Rail’s acting route managing director for the north west region, said: “This new rail operating centre means that Manchester will be one of the most important places on the railway map in the north west.

“When fully operational, it will help to boost performance, increase capacity and provide a better level of service to passengers across the north west and help the railway recover more efficiently during periods of disruption.

“As well as contributing to a better railway, it will also help boost the local economy and help with the regeneration of this part of the city, with several hundred jobs to eventually be relocated here.”

A spokesperson for First TransPennine Express and Northern Rail said: "The railway across the north of England is subject to massive investment and improvement and the dedicated signalling centre at Ashbury's is another example of that.

"It will allow for teams from Network Rail and rail operators such as FTPE and Northern to work more closely together thus ensuring that customers benefit from quick and collaborative decision making.

“This type of investment will allow for improved service reliability and performance which benefits everyone."

The line between Huyton and Roby, near Liverpool, is the first section of railway being controlled from the Manchester ROC following the recent resignalling and upgrade work carried out earlier this month. The next sections of railway to be controlled from the ROC will be parts of central and north Manchester in 2015.

Later this year the ROC will be home to Network Rail, TransPennine Express and Northern control staff who monitor the operational railway and help to deal with incidents as and when they arise. Working together in the same building as the increasing number of signallers will help the railway industry as a whole react to disruption in a quicker and more efficient way, reducing delays and providing passengers with better, more accurate real time information.

Over the next 20 years all of the railway in the north west of England will be controlled from the ROC, bordered by Crewe to the south, Todmorden in the east, Carlisle in the north and the Welsh border to the west.

When fully operational, up to 400 staff will work from the ROC, operating the railway 24 hours a day.

Construction of the ROC building was carried out by Morgan Sindall on behalf of Network Rail.

Notes to editors

There are two ROCs on the LNW route between London and the Scottish border. The other is at Rugby and is currently under construction.

The other ROCs across Britain are at: Cardiff, Derby, Didcot, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Gillingham, Basingstoke, Romford, Three Bridges and York.

Work started to construct the Manchester ROC in July 2012 and it was handed over to Network Rail in March 2014.

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