A multi-million pound deal has been struck with Siemens Rail Automation to upgrade freight trains with technology that will improve the transport network in Britain.
Awarded by Network Rail, the contract will see the installation of European Train Control System (ETCS) in-cab signalling on the freight fleet in Britain.
It is hoped that it will ultimately lead to 750 vehicles being equipped with this technology that will help to tackle the demand and strain on railway by accelerating modernisation.
Since 1996, passenger numbers have more than doubled and in the next 25 years, this number is expected to double once again.
The importance of freight vehicles is huge; since the mid-1990s, they have increased by 70% and directly contribute £870 million to the nation’s economy each and every year.
Part of England’s Digital Railway Programme, the technology will focus on the heaviest used types of locomotives, with full fleet roll-out potentially from 2022 onwards to follow.
Crucially, the work by Siemens Rail Automation will improve operational performance on the rail network; using on-train signals rather than lineside signals means more trains can run on existing tracks. This will reduce crowding, improve better connections and improve performance and safety for passengers.
Siemens will work with Network Rail and all six Freight Operating Companies (FOCs) when installing the technology that will provide safe movement authority directly and continuously to the driver through a driver’s display.
As well as reducing rail congestion, the freight fleet also helps England’s road network because it takes approximately 7.6 million lorry journeys off the road each year, freeing up capacity for other users.
Paul McMahon is the Freight Managing Director at Network Rail. He said: “This is a significant investment and underlines our commitment to the freight sector. It will assure long term competitiveness through increased performance and is a key part of a cohesive portfolio of freight investment for CP6 and beyond.”