Network Rail announces £1.8bn plan to introduce Digital Railway on section of the East Coast Main Line by 2024.
NETWORK Rail hopes to have trains running on the East Coast Main Line using European Train Control System (ETCS) by the end of Control Period 6 (2024).
The company is seeking a partner to deliver the first major inter-city digital railway in the UK. NR’s London North Eastern and East Midlands (LNE & EM) Route wants to team up early with a supplier on a whole-life basis that incorporates design, build and maintain.
It will run over a 100-mile section between London King’s Cross, Moorgate, Royston and Stoke (north of Peterborough). The aim is for 20 trains per hour to operate over a constrained piece of busy railway, including eight high-speed, long-distance trains.
The deal is worth £1.8 billion via a single supplier framework contract, with a duration of up to eight years. It is expected to be awarded in spring 2019. Each package (Moorgate, southern ECML and north of Peterborough) are 30 years long, with the £1.8bn the aggregate value. NR expects the eventual cost to be between £1bn and £1.8bn, and the procurement process has started.
“This is an extraordinary and exciting opportunity that will have a significant and sustained impact on the future of the railway and the economies and communities we serve,” said LNE & EM Route Managing Director Rob McIntosh.
Toufic Machnouk, Route Programme Director for the LNE & EM route, said: “This is the beginning of a journey. We are seeking this partnership early in the process to develop the best plan for realising a digital railway.”
David Waboso, NR’s Managing Director, Group Digital Railway, said: “There is a compelling case for a digital transformation on this southern section of the East Coast Main Line. The big challenge of digital railway is the integration of the infrastructure and rolling
stock, and with the need for asset renewal coming at the same time as 70% of passenger trains being fitted, we are presented with a huge opportunity to align track and train in an efficient way.”
Speaking on September 4, Machnouk added: “Technology can allow you to push limits. It helps facilitate organic change. If we expect more of rail, then it needs superhuman capability.
“The southern East Coast Main Line is the focus, as the assets are old. The last upgrade was in the 1970s. There are some challenging structure constraints - Welwyn Viaduct and tunnel, and it is a mixed traffic railway.”
He added that NR has found over the past year that it cannot buy technology like it buys bridges - it needs a different approach.
Phil Bennett, Commercial Director, Group Digital Railway, said that the procurement model was very different to the past. “It is a strategy about establishing partners to deliver outcomes. Only that way do they get rewarded,” he said.
Source: Network Rail.