Network Rail Chief Executive, Mark Carne, launched on May 10 the National Digital Railway Strategy, setting out a fifteen-year roadmap for the technological transformation of Britain’s railway.
“Across the industry we have spent three years working together so that we can stand here today and say that all the key elements to launch a Digital Railway transformation are now in place,” Mark Carne said.
Over half of Britain’s analogue signalling systems, with lineside traffic lights controlling trains, will need to be replaced within the next 15 years. A like for like replacement would cost circa £20 billion (EUR 22.8 billion) and deliver very little in terms of passenger benefits. New digital signalling offers a more cost-effective alternative that also brings significant benefits for rail users, such as more capacity, speed and reliability.
Currently, digital train control is already implemented on the Thameslink core through London Bridge and on Crossrail.
In the five years to 2024 the industry is planning to introduce it across the Pennines, on the southern end of the East Coast main line into London King’s Cross and onto some of the major commuter routes that feed London Waterloo.
Within 15 years, the aim is to see 70 per cent of journeys benefit from digital railway technology. “Transforming our railway into the digital age offers the chance to deliver huge benefits for our passengers and the freight that this country depends on. It is the most cost-efficient way to deliver the future railway Britain needs,” Carne said.