Rail (UK)

Reg­u­la­tor ex­am­ines sig­nalling sys­tems mar­ket

- Business · Network Rail Route 18 · European Commission · Siemens · Alstom

The Of­fice of Rail and Road be­gan a study into the sig­nalling sys­tems mar­ket on Novem­ber 12, to en­sure the sig­nalling sup­ply chain is fair and com­pet­i­tive.

Ex­am­i­na­tion of the sec­tor has been prompted by the fact that sig­nalling ac­counted for more than £4 bil­lion of Net­work Rail’s spend over Con­trol Pe­riod 5 (2014-19), and that it is set to in­crease sig­nif­i­cantly as dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy in­clud­ing Euro­pean Train Con­trol Sys­tem is rolled out across the net­work.

ORR says the study will build on pre­vi­ous work in the sec­tor, in­clud­ing its en­gage­ment with the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion on the pro­posed merger of Siemens and Al­stom. The study will:

■ Ex­am­ine the sup­ply chain for the de­liv­ery of ma­jor sig­nalling projects.

■ Look at the strength of com­pe­ti­tion for ten­ders and in­cen­tives to com­pete in the mar­ket.

■ As­sess whether there are any bar­ri­ers to in­no­va­tion, mar­ket en­try or the in­tro­duc­tion of new tech­nol­ogy.

■ Scru­ti­nise the abil­ity of the sup­ply chain to build up ca­pac­ity for the roll­out of the so-called ‘dig­i­tal rail­way’.

ORR claims its rec­om­men­da­tions will en­sure that the sup­ply chain is fair and com­pet­i­tive and ca­pa­ble of meet­ing de­mand, while de­liv­er­ing good out­comes for pas­sen­gers, tax­pay­ers and other busi­nesses which use the rail­way.

A pre­vi­ous study closed in April to en­sure the reg­u­la­tor’s ef­forts were fo­cused on the im­pact of the Coron­avirus pan­demic.

ORR Head of Com­pe­ti­tion Tom Cole said: “Sig­nalling sys­tems are an es­sen­tial part of the rail­way. They keep pas­sen­gers safe by en­sur­ing trains do not come into con­flict with each other and play a key role in free­ing up ca­pac­ity on the net­work.

“The abil­ity for Net­work Rail to drive value for money when buy­ing high-qual­ity sig­nalling sys­tems is vi­tal to its de­liv­ery of a re­li­able and ef­fi­cient rail­way. Now is the right time to open this mar­ket study as in­dus­try per­son­nel and ev­i­dence is now likely to be avail­able.”

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