Infrastructure insights: railway signalling

A signaller monitors the screen at a ROC

The changes we’re making to an ageing signalling system are an essential part of our vision for a better railway for a better Britain.

Signalling is the ‘traffic light system’ of the railway, and we’re working to replace outdated signalling systems across the country to improve reliability and safety for passengers.

The Signalling programme of our Infrastructure Projects division delivers all major signalling renewals nationally, the European Train Controls System (ETCS), traffic management and some enhancement projects.

Above: The traffic light system of the railway

Heritage and digital future

Of all the buildings developed specifically for the railways, the trackside signal box holds a special place as one of the most instantly recognisable. We are working with railway heritage organisations to document the history, operation and way of life associated with signal boxes.

More about our signalling heritage and the Film Archive of Railway Signalling and People

The consolidation of more than 800 signal boxes into state-of-the-art rail operating centres (ROC) is the next chapter in the history of signalling on Britain’s railway. Rail traffic management technology will improve both capacity and performance on the railway network.

While the traditional approach to signalling is to use trackside signalling equipment to control the safe movement of trains, we’re replacing this with modern, in-cab computer displays and control centre systems. This means the future of railway signalling belongs inside the train, bringing all information from one of our operating centres nationwide to the driver, instantly.

The future of signalling

Digital railway: upgrading Britain’s railway to next-generation technology

World-first roll out for British technology innovation set to deliver a more punctual railway

Signalling projects

Our resignalling projects continue apace across Britain.

Norwich, Yarmouth and Lowestoft

Upgrades to the signalling system on the Norwich, Yarmouth and Lowestoft railway lines started in October 2017. The next phase of work is set to begin on Saturday 10 February 2018 as part of a £68m investment.

A total of 66 new colour light LED signals, 22 power-operated points and a remote computer-based signalling control system will replace levers and physical operations, providing safer and more reliable journeys for passengers.

Norwich, Yarmouth, Lowestoft resignalling project

Derby

A £200m project starting in July 2018 will relay new track and improve the signalling throughout the entire Derby station area, improving journeys to and through Derby station by reducing bottlenecks and enabling quicker and more efficient passage of rail traffic. It’s the biggest rail investment in Derby station for decades and a key part of the Midland Mainline upgrade.

Derby resignalling

Preston to Blackpool

We are upgrading the railway between Preston and Blackpool as part of a multi-billion pound investment in the north to deliver cleaner, quieter and more reliable journeys in 2018.

Modernising signalling equipment to reduce delays and improve performance is part of the work, including replacing 84 signals and moving the signalling control to the Manchester ROC.

The Great North Rail Project

West Yorkshire

We’re upgrading the signalling between Pudsey, Bradford, Halifax, Hebden Bridge, Huddersfield and Shepley for more reliable journeys with fewer delays. This major investment, part of the Great North Rail Project, will see new signalling infrastructure installed across the route, with systems transferred to York ROC.

West Yorkshire signalling upgrade

Above: York ROC

Liverpool

In October 2017, during the first nine days of phase one of the Liverpool Lime Street upgrade, a modern signalling system was installed to improve reliability and provide passengers with a better service. This allowed trains to run in and out of platforms 1 and 2 for the majority of the upgrade.

Liverpool City Region upgrade