Latest Rail News

24.02.16

Transport select committee opens inquiry into Digital Railway

Network Rail’s plan for the Digital Railway is the subject of a new inquiry by the Transport Select Committee.

The digital railway initiative, being driven by Network Rail’s boss Mark Carne, will see the European Train Control System (ETCS), and the European Railway Traffic Management System (ERTMS) which it is a component of, replace existing signalling infrastructure in the UK.

The committee’s inquiry will look at how these systems will impact the use of the network by passenger and freight services.

It will also examine how traffic management technology can improve how timetables are planned by bringing in real-time traffic management, and how the ongoing centralisation of signalling responsibilities to large rail operating centres (ROCs) is achieving this.

The committee is currently seeking submissions to the inquiry, which is open until 6 April. The group of cross-party MPs are particularly interested in receiving evidence on:

  • The efficiency of Network Rail’s planned roll-out of ERTMS and ETCS across the rail network
  • How the state of current GSM-Railway technology (a standard for wireless technology used for railway communication and applications) impacts rail infrastructure
  • How realistic the timings proposed in Network Rail’s “Digital Railway” programme are, and how these will be achieved
  • How changes to Network rail’s Enhancement Delivery Plan following the Hendy Review will impact the rollout of ETCS/ERTMS systems
  • How the transfer of signalling responsibilities to Rail Operating Centres (ROCs) is proceeding, and what implications this transfer has for the overall rollout of new signalling and traffic management technology
  • What legislative and other action the Government could take to support the rate of change in signalling and traffic management technology
  • Whether timetable planning is suitably optimised to meet demand for both passenger and freight rail, and how traffic management technology can be used to improve this

Alistair Gordon, chief executive of Keolis UK and chair of the Rail Delivery Group’s technology and operations working group, argued that the switch to digital railway is vital in the most recent edition of RTM.

However, £460m funding which was partly intended for Digital Railway was cut last month under Sir Peter Hendy’s Enhancement Delivery Plan update.

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