Rail Industry Focus

27.01.20

ORR launch signalling systems market study

The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has today (Jan 27) opened a market study into the supply of rail signalling systems.

The study will aim to examine issues within the rail signalling marketplace and address them if appropriate, taking into account various economic drivers, consumer patterns and behaviour.

The railway network relies on functioning signalling systems to keep passengers safe and balance congestion on the busy railways. This includes ensuring that trains don’t come into contact with each other.

Between 2014-2019, Network Rail invested £4bn into signalling, with expectations of spend to continue at this high level in the future. Part of this includes costs for the planned rollout of new digital technology on to the rail network.

ORR plans to focus on the level of competition for the delivery of significant signalling projects, highlighting the strength of competition for tenders and ensuring there are no barriers to innovation or new technology solutions entering the network.

Particular time will be spent on examining if there is fair and commercially reasonable access to interlocking technology and other aspects of the installed railway infrastructure base, which are necessary to deliver complex signalling projects in Great Britain.

In order to boost innovation and push forward a digital railway as quickly as possible, the market study will look for any competition issues in the supply chain, with a view to solving them. It will also build of ORR’s recent engagement with the European Commission about the proposed merger of Siemens/Alstom, which was blocked in February 2019.

Tom Cole, Head of Competition, ORR, 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.”

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