Great Britain’s rail network owner and operator Network Rail has announced Siemens Mobility and Atkins as its partners to introduce in-cab signalling on the southern section of the East Coast Main Line.

The East Coast Digital Programme (ECDP) is expected to reduce passenger delays by thousands of hours. The programme will include fitting the trains with the latest in-cab signalling technology and remove the old lineside signals.

Thanks to the new technology, the signallers will now be able to talk to trains continuously rather than only at fixed points, instructing and responding in real-time. The programme would reduce delays while significantly improving performance.

The new technology will be installed on the section of East Coast Main Line, covering from King’s Cross to just north of Peterborough. The section uses an old signalling system from the 1970s and it is due to be renewed within the next few years.

A staged migration to ETCS level 2 with no lineside signals will now take place. The new signalling system is expected to be used by 300 passenger and freight trains to be installed with the new technology.

The estimated value of the framework is £900m and the first investment of £350m is already being used to start introducing the technology on the route and lay foundations for a wider national roll-out.

Network Rail launched the procurement process back in September 2018 to find private sector partners who could design, develop and deliver the European Train Control System (ETCS) technology.

The process selected Siemens Mobility as the train control partner (TCP) and traffic management partner (TMP) and Atkins as the rail systems integration partner (RSIP).

As the RSIP partner, Atkins will provide programme management, business case development, business change benefits realisation, industry integration, operational readiness and engineering management services.

The East Coast Digital Programme director Toufic Machnouk 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.”

Siemens Mobility UK rail infrastructure managing director Rob Morris 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.”


Image: Network Rail selects Siemens Mobility and Atkins as partners to introduce new signalling system in the UK. (Credit: Network Rail.)