Regulator examines signalling systems market
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.”