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Network Rail names first ‘traffic management’ contract winner

Network Rail has awarded a ‘landmark’ contract to Thales UK to deploy traffic management technology at two of the UK’s new Regional Operating Centres (ROCs).

Worth a combined £28.8m, the contract will see Thales provide its ARAMIS Traffic Management System (TMS), which is already used to control more than 60,000 trains per day in 11 countries, to the two centres in Cardiff and Romford by December 2015.

This will be the first time that the internationally proven TMS technology has been deployed in the UK, and is part of Network Rail’s significant investment targeted at improving rail network performance and capacity.

Over the next 15-30 years, Network Rail aims to ‘consolidate’ control of Britain’s rail network from more than 800 signal boxes into 12 state-of-the-art ROCs.

Robin Gisby, Network Rail’s managing director of network operations, said: “As the number of people and businesses relying on rail continues to grow, it is vital we have the technology to make the best use of Britain’s rail infrastructure.

“The traffic management which will be deployed on the network uses tried and tested technology used on railways around the world to help deliver a leaner, more efficient and reliable network.”

Thales was one of three global suppliers who have been working with Network Rail since 2012 to develop and test a TMS prototype, using real-time information to mock up how the new system would control the railway in future.

However, the award of contracts for the national rollout of TMS technology will be subject to future competitions and will involve all current traffic management framework holders: Thales UK; Signalling Solutions Ltd (a joint venture between Alstom Transport and Balfour Beatty Rail); and Hitachi Rail Europe.

Victor Chavez, CEO of Thales UK, said: “Our selection for this first phase of the TMS programme is a huge step in our relationship with Network Rail, and we are hugely excited to bring our global TMS expertise to the UK.

“This is a great example of how we can leverage our significant domestic and global resources to help Network Rail achieve their goals and fulfil their future technology strategy requirement.”

The contract for traffic management LINX development, delivery and support, however, has been awarded to Signalling Solutions Ltd at value of £3.4m with completion scheduled for December 2015.

By 2015, Network Rail stated that it plans to have built six new ROCs, in addition to six existing locations. The new centres will be located at Basingstoke, Manchester, Romford, Rugby, Three Bridges and York.

Existing locations include Cardiff, Derby, Didcot, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Gillingham. However, whilst the ROCs bring big benefits for the future, they also mark the end of a remarkably long era for the 500+ mechanical signal boxes on the national network.

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email [email protected]


Observer   02/06/2014 at 10:51

Nothing against Thales but what was the point of the massive procurement exercise and shortlisting if BOTH the pilot schemes go to the same supplier?? Surely the purpose of the pilot is to learn lessons from each to improve the next - now we will have two sets of the same lessons and quite probably a supplier that is too stretched to actually deliver both in parallel - oh and the heroic SSL re-signalling too. No doubt there is some cunning explanation that is beyond me to grasp..

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