UK telecom infrastructure, via Network Rail

UK rail network telecom infrastructure upgrades inching closer

Network Rail are currently engrossed in exciting discussions with a private sector consortium to enter into a partnership for the delivery of upgraded telecom infrastructure. This rejuvenation will lead to improved connectivity throughout the UK, boosting the network in a deal that could equate to notable taxpayer savings.

The project will accelerate the necessary trackside fibre and mast upgrades to future-proof the telecoms network and:

  • Enhance wireless connectivity on trains and in stations for passengers.
  • Improve data-driven train performance and safety systems.
  • Align with the Government’s levelling up agenda and support current objectives to improve connectivity across Britain.

Having launched this initiative two years ago, the exclusive discussions between both parties shows significant growth towards achieving these key upgrades, with a deal expected to be reached by mid-2023.

The consortium involved is comprised of a partnership between two private sector businesses, both of whom are market leaders in the development of mobile tower and fibre assets. The funding from this deal will be used to drastically upgrade the existing telecom framework, with access to this funding being predicated on granting rights to commercialise the network.

This proposed deal would ensure the telecom infrastructure is future-proofed, through the installation of new fibre optic cabling and mobile towers across Network Rail’s estate.

The connectivity improvements will accommodate for the continuous digital transformation across the UK rail network, allowing for the data-driven railway of the future to become prominent today. This enhancement will also see major passenger benefits through improvements to train performance and safety standards, accompanying the obvious wireless connectivity improvements for people’s devices.

This upgrade project would also align with the government’s plans to accelerate the provision of high-quality broadband to harder-to-reach rural communities and supports levelling up initiatives.

Harriet Hepburn, Network Rail’s Corporate Finance Director, said:

“This is an exciting opportunity for Network Rail, and we are excited at the prospect of entering this long-term partnership. The proposal provides a comprehensive package that will deliver real benefits for passengers and the railway, and also significant savings for the UK taxpayer.”

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