£1 Billion Signalling Funding & 5000 New Jobs

Grant Shapps has announced that the Government will be providing a billion pounds of investment to replace outdated Victorian infrastructure on the East Coast Main Line with the very latest digital signalling technologies.  This new investment will also create a further 5000 jobs and result in fewer passenger delays whilst also improving the overall customer experience.

Did you know that the East Coast Mainline was initially constructed by three independent railway companies. During the 1830s and 1840s, each company built part of the route to serve its own area, but also intending to link with other railways to form the through route that would become one of the UK’s busiest railways & known as the East Coast Main Line. From north to south, the companies were:

  • The North British Railwayfrom Edinburgh to Berwick-upon-Tweed, completed in 1846.
  • The North Eastern Railway from Berwick-upon-Tweed to Shaftholme.
  • The Great Northern Railway from Shaftholme to King’s Cross, completed in 1850.

According to government figures a third of the UK’s population live within 20 minutes of a station on the East Coast Main Line, and put together this population actually produces more than 40% of the UK’s Gross Domestic Product. So, the East Coast Mainline actually plays a pivotal role in the prosperity and the nation’s economy.

This new signalling technology will be rolled out across the southern section of the line – from London’s King’s Cross to Stoke Tunnels, just south of Grantham. This will mean more regular, safer and faster trains for millions of people.

The funding will remove outdated lineside signalling and replace it with the European train control system (ETCS), which brings signalling into train drivers’ cabs and provides them with real-time, continuous information throughout their journey. The new in-cab technology will create a more responsive, more resilient railway and, crucially for passengers, one that can recover quicker when journeys don’t go to plan. Most importantly, as the system will constantly monitor the train’s speed, it will also create a safer railway.

Toufic Machnouk, Director, Industry Partnership for Digital Railway, Network Rail, said:

“We are delighted to have been given the go ahead for this ground-breaking programme that will transform the capability and resilience of the East Coast Main Line and be a key enabler for the wider network.

The East Coast Digital Programme (ECDP) is uniquely bringing together all elements of track and train through a pioneering industry partnership that is working beyond boundaries in a deep collaboration.

We will upskill our people and use new technology to improve the way we work for the benefit of passengers and freight customers.

As well as the many passenger benefits, the ECDP will deliver a much-needed financial boost to the industry and, over its lifetime, is 42% cheaper than the current system.

It will also help the government towards its net zero goal by decreasing carbon emissions by 55,000 tonnes – the equivalent of more than 65,000 one-way flights from London to New York.”

Network Rail will prioritise the request for a further investment of £427 million as part of the next control period settlement, bringing the overall investment to just under £2 billion. Proof that the Government and Network Rail really do want to bring our railways into the 21st Century!

Image credit Wikipedia