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DfT announces big spend on digital railway


Mark Say Managing Editor

The East Coast Main Line is set to become the first mainline rail link in the country to replace conventional signalling with a digital system.

Digital image of train on track

The Department for Transport (DfT) has announced a £350 million investment into the system, which it says will enable trains to “talk to the track”.

It comes on top of a £1.2 billion spend to upgrade the line and as one element of the Government’s plan to modernise the rail network. The DfT has also announced a £12 million investment in fitting out 33 new trains for the line with digital signalling equipment.

The new technology shows signallers exactly where each train is at every minute of every journey and recognises the different trains of different sizes, and with different speeds and braking capabilities, that run on the East Coast Main Line. This makes it easier to manage their movements through block sections of the line, and provides train drivers with more accurate, real time information on location, gaps with other trains and safety alerts.

The DfT said the technology will smooth the flow of trains, making it possible to plan journeys in terms of seconds rather than minutes, and to manage them more effectively with fewer delays. It will also make journeys safer and reduce signal failures.

Boost performance

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “Upgrading this country’s conventional signalling system, and giving drivers technology fit for the 21st century, will boost train performance, cut delays, improve safety and support the supply chain.

“This is just the beginning. In time, we will digitise signalling right across the country to make good on our promise of better reliability and punctuality for passengers.”

Image from iStock, Cherezoff

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