A market study into the supply of rail signalling systems has been opened by the regulator.
The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) say the study is being undertaken to ensure that the rail signalling supply chain is both ‘fair and competitive’, delivering for passengers and giving value for money to the taxpayer.
Rail signalling systems are essential for the railway; they not only keep passengers safe by guaranteeing trains don’t come into conflict with each other, but they also are extremely important in freeing up capacity for the congested rail network.
In the five years to the end of 2019, signalling accounted for in excess of £4 billion of Network Rail’s investment – a figure that is expected to remain significant in the future, which will also incorporate the roll-out of new digital technology on to the network.
The ORR’s market study into railway signalling systems will explore the level of competition for the “delivery of significant signalling projects.”
It will look at the strength of competition for tenders and any barriers to innovation or new entrants entering with new solutions to benefit the industry.
There will be a particular focus on whether or not fair and commercially reasonable access to interlocking technology exists, as well as other important aspects of the installed railway infrastructure base that are vital to the delivery of complex signalling projects.
Tom Cole is Head of Competition at the ORR. He explained why the regulator is conducting the market study.
He said: “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.
“We want to ensure the signalling supply chain is fair and competitive, and delivering good outcomes for the ultimate benefit of passengers and other users, and the taxpayer.”