The Department for Transport (DfT) and Network Rail have launched the Digital Railway Strategy which is a commitment to make all new trains and signalling digital or digital ready by next year.
Digital technology is crucial to Network Rail’s plans to make the railway more efficient as well as delivering improvements for passenger journeys.
Work has been undertaken previously on a number of railways, implementing technology that allow trains to safely run closer together, therefore increasing the number that can run per hour.
New digital technology on the railway will cut delays, deliver more frequent services, and more seats too.
The Digital Railway Strategy has been launched in York on the Transpennine route, which is the location of what the Department for Transport wants to be the first digitally controlled intercity railway.
Digital technology has already been implemented on services through London Bridge, London King’s Cross, Waterloo, and across the Pennines, and in the next five years, the railway industry wants to introduce digital train control across the Pennines, on the southern end of the East Coast main line, and onto major commuter routes feeding London Waterloo.
In the next 15 years, Network Rail want 70% of journeys to benefit from digital rail technology – around the time HS2 arrives in Manchester – and the Digital Railway Strategy will deliver the installation of new digital signalling for this purpose.
It will also ensure the significant £48 billion investment set out in the Strategic Business Plan is spent in the most cost effective way possible.
Mark Carne, Chief Executive of Network Rail, said: “The age of a digital railway has moved from the drawing board and into reality as we reveal a blueprint that will improve the lives of millions of passengers and freight users across the country.
“Today’s commitment is to adopt and roll out new digital technology, for both trains and track, that will deliver faster more frequent services for passengers and businesses alike, giving our economy a massive boost.”