London, UK (Urban Transport News): The UK government has announced an investment plan to modernize its rail network by deploying new rail technology. Over £1bn of government funding will be used to replace outdated Victorian infrastructure with state-of-the-art digital signage technology.
A third of the country’s population lives within 20 minutes of a station on the East Coast Main Line and together produce over 40% of the UK’s consumption. GDPmaking it one of the UK’s busiest railways whilst playing a vital role in the prosperity of the national economy.
The technology, which will be rolled out across the southern section of the line – from King’s Cross in London to Stoke Tunnels, just south of Grantham – will mean faster, safer and more regular trains for millions of people.
A week after union leaders paralyzed much of the country’s railways with strikes, this investment is a key example of how the government wants to bring the industry into the 21st century.
“While union bosses waste time touring TV studios and standing on picket lines, I am busy continuing the work in progress and modernizing our railway. This billion pound investment sterling will enable us to replace unreliable Victorian infrastructure with state-of-the-art technology which means fewer delays and more regular services for millions of passengers,” said Grant Shapps, UK Transport Secretary, adding that the world is changing and, despite the unions’ best efforts, I am determined to help our railroad change with it.
The funding will remove outdated lineside signaling and replace it with the European Train Control System (ETCS), which brings signaling into the cabins of train drivers and provides them with real-time and continuous information throughout their journey.
New in-cab technology will create a railway that is more responsive, more resilient and, especially for passengers, able to recover more quickly when journeys do not go as planned. More importantly, as the system will continuously monitor the speed of the train, it will also create a safer train track.
“We are delighted to have received the green light for this groundbreaking program which will transform the capacity and resilience of the East Coast Mainline and be a key enabler for the wider network. The East Coast Digital Program (ECDP) uniquely brings together all elements of track and training through a pioneering industry partnership that works across borders in deep collaboration. We will upskill our people and use new technologies to improve the way we work for the benefit of passengers and freight customers,” said Toufic Machnouk, Director, Digital Rail Industry Partnership, Network Rail.
In addition to the many benefits for passengers, the ECDP will provide a much-needed financial boost to the industry and, over its lifetime, is 42% cheaper than the current system.
“Freight customers throughout supply chains depend on reliable rail services to deliver goods to people. We welcome this investment in digital signage which will provide a more flexible and resilient railway, unlocking the potential for future growth in rail freight traffic supporting both decarbonisation and economic growth,” commented Maggie Simpson. EBOManaging Director, Rail Freight Group.
The £1billion investment will also help the government achieve its net zero target by reducing carbon emissions by 55,000 tonnes, the equivalent of over 65,000 one-way flights from London to New York.