Digital railway 'needs cash to realise full benefits'

 

Network Rail has published what it called a blueprint to improve the lives of passengers and freight users through the use of digital technology.

The rail infrastructure operator said the aim of its Digital Railway Strategy was to see 70% of journeys benefit from digital signalling technology within 15 years.

Chief executive Mark Carne and transport secretary Chris Grayling also committed to ensuring that all new trains and signalling are ‘digital or digital ready’ from 2019.

Mr Carne said: ‘The age of a digital railway has today moved from the drawing board and into reality as we reveal a blueprint that will improve the lives of millions of passengers and freight users across the country.

‘Today’s commitment is to adopt and roll-out new digital technology, for both trains and track, that will deliver faster more frequent services for passengers and businesses alike, giving our economy a massive boost.’

”Local

The document states that Network Rail’s Digital Railway Programme will enable the delivery of benefits by embedding a number of new ways of working and technologies, including the European Train Control System (ETCS), which allows trains to run closer together and travel at their optimal speeds and provides enhanced train protection.

Department for Transport (DfT) officials said new digital rail technology will:

  • safely allow more trains to run per hour by running trains closer together
  • allow more frequent services and more seats
  • cut delays by allowing trains to get moving more rapidly after disruption
  • enable vastly improved mobile and wi-fi connectivity, so that passengers can make the most of their travel time and communities close to the railway can connect more easily

The strategy appears to have been a long time in the writing. The need for such a document was identified in a report from a DfT ministerial group on the digital railway in late 2016, following an allocation of £450m in the 2016 Autumn Statement.

That report stated: ‘The group believes that an effective change in the industry can only be brought about if the Government shows leadership by setting outs its vision and a clear strategy for the introduction of the next generation of rail signalling technology.’

The strategy notes a number of initiatives taking place in the current Control Period (CP5), which runs to 2019.

It states: ‘In the medium term, from CP6 to mid-CP7 (2019 to c.2027), the delivery strategy is "Targeted Deployment", whereby Digital Railway schemes will be identified and prioritised according to the most compelling, stand-alone business cases.This will be based on a set of principles, using an integrated and targeted approach, set out in this strategy. In addition, £450 million from the National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF) is proposed to accelerate the deployment of a selection of digital schemes to deliver benefits by mid-CP6.’

It adds: ‘Currently there is no allocation in the statement of funds available (SoFA) for CP6 for digital signalling (ETCS) renewals, and additional funding will be sought on a case-by-case basis.’

Richard Robinson, chief executive, civil infrastructure, EMIA at AECOM, said: ‘After years of industry wrestling with the productivity gap, the time has come to fully embrace digital innovation and take the necessary step forwards to accelerate delivery. We now have the keys to unlock the future - and they lie in the combination of new delivery models and the smart use of technology.

‘However, in order for the full benefit of this transformation to be realised we must continue major enhancement investment in the railway, including from the private sector.’

Maggie Simpson, executive director at the Rail Freight Group, said: ‘Digital transformation of the railways is an exciting proposition and one that we fully embrace.

‘Government and Network Rail have taken the first steps to ensuring freight is part of this story but must now commit to fund ongoing fleet fitment in CP6 to ensure that freight operators and their customers can take full advantage of the benefits of digital railway.’

Register now for full access


Register just once to get unrestricted, real-time coverage of the issues and challenges facing UK transport and highways engineers.

Full website content includes the latest news, exclusive commentary from leading industry figures and detailed topical analysis of the highways, transportation, environment and place-shaping sectors. Use the link below to register your details for full, free access.

Already a registered? Login

 
comments powered by Disqus
 
 
highways jobs

Senior/Principal Highway Network Management Officer

Bristol City Council
£30,746 - £37,107
These are exciting times in Bristol, as there is considerable investment in its transport and highway infrastructure in recent years City of Bristol
Recuriter: Bristol City Council

Site Inspectors

Oxfordshire County Council
£29,909- £36,153
You will provide specialist technical support to some of the most imaginative transport and town planning challenges imaginable. Oxford, Oxfordshire
Recuriter: Oxfordshire County Council

Local Transport Policy Lead

Oxfordshire County Council
£37,107 - £43,757
Define your true potential with Oxfordshire County Council Oxford, Oxfordshire
Recuriter: Oxfordshire County Council

Planning Obligations Team Member

Oxfordshire County Council
£21,074 - £29,055
You will witness first-hand the exciting developments currently taking place in Oxfordshire Oxford, Oxfordshire
Recuriter: Oxfordshire County Council

Transport Development Control Team Leader

Oxfordshire County Council
£48,551 - £55,374
We need visionary Team Leaders to help our people meet their targets. Oxford, Oxfordshire
Recuriter: Oxfordshire County Council

Head of Property, Planning and Public Protection

Powys County Council
Head of Service 2 £66,854 - £73,540 per annum
Powys County Council, open and enterprising Llandrindod Wells, Powys
Recuriter: Powys County Council

Senior Engineer

Wirral Borough Council
£30,756 to £33,136
No holding back. No excuses. Just change Wirral. Bring it on. Wirral, Merseyside
Recuriter: Wirral Borough Council

Chief Executive

Epping Forest District Council
up to £120k
A role with roots in our community. Epping, Essex
Recuriter: Epping Forest District Council

Housing Renewal Technical Officer

Torridge District Council
£21,074 — £26,470 per annum
Advice to private sector tenants, landlords, & owner-occupiers about housing disrepair & energy issues. Bideford, Devon
Recuriter: Torridge District Council

Principal Traffic Engineer

Telford & Wrekin Council
£34,106 - £37,107 - PO6/SCP 38
To provide project leadership on the design, implementation and project management on major traffic Engineering schemes. Telford, Shropshire
Recuriter: Telford & Wrekin Council

Programme Manager Central

Oxfordshire County Council
£37,107 - £43,757
We’re on a mission to enhance Oxfordshire – and with you by our side, that vision just became a reality. Oxford, Oxfordshire
Recuriter: Oxfordshire County Council

Planning Obligations Manager

Oxfordshire County Council
£37,107 - £47,575
Committed to supporting growth across the county, you will ensure financial contributions are being actively and efficiently managed. Oxford, Oxfordshire
Recuriter: Oxfordshire County Council

Funeral Assistant

Brent Council
£28,356 - £30,108 p.a. inc. plus Standby Allowance
Salary range
Recuriter: Brent Council

Area Engineer

Camden London Borough Council
£31,836 to £36,931
Does a combination of outdoor and office based work appeal to you? Camden, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Camden London Borough Council

Economic Development Officer

Amber Valley Borough Council
Grade 6 - £24,657 to £28,221 per year
Amber Valley Borough Council are currently recruiting for an experienced Economic Development Officer Ripley, Derbyshire
Recuriter: Amber Valley Borough Council

Technical Officer (Highways & Drainage)

Oxfordshire County Council
£29,909 - £36,153 per annum (depending on experience)
Do you want to improve Oxfordshire's highways to make them better for residents, business, and visitors? Oxfordshire
Recuriter: Oxfordshire County Council

Assistant Director, Public Space

London Borough of Merton
Up to c.£96k
ENHANCING AND PROTECTING GREAT PUBLIC SPACES Merton, London (Greater)
Recuriter: London Borough of Merton

Assistant Director, Public Protection

London Borough of Merton
Up to c.£96k
ENHANCING AND PROTECTING GREAT PUBLIC SPACES Merton, London (Greater)
Recuriter: London Borough of Merton

Highways Maintenance Manager

Plymouth City Council
£37,107 to £41,846
We are looking for a dynamic Highways Manager to lead and co-ordinate all our maintenance activities Plymouth, Devon
Recuriter: Plymouth City Council

Road Agreements Team Leader

Oxfordshire County Council
£48,551 - £55,374
Our vision at Oxfordshire County Council is to create a region that doesn’t just meet the needs of its population – it exceeds their expectations Oxford, Oxfordshire
Recuriter: Oxfordshire County Council