Network Rail has launched the third procurement in its major digital railway transformation programme on the East Coast Main Line (ECML). The company is seeking a traffic management partner to work within its London North Eastern and East Midlands (LNE & EM) route on the first inter-city development and deployment of modern in-cab signalling.

Traffic management plays an important role in improving performance for passengers, helping to predict and prevent conflict and re-plan the timetable to reduce delays in the event of disruption. The traffic management system will be the first tailored system on the network designed and developed in conjunction with industry partners, reflecting a new way of working for Network Rail.

The procurement will complement the two previous ECML tenders launched last year, which will result in three external partners being appointed to assist the transformation programme. Last summer a process was launched to find a technology provider – known as the train control partner – to work on developing joint solutions, and in November the search began for a railway systems integration partner to help coordinate the industry change in delivering the programme. The new way of working involves Network Rail teaming up with providers early to combine operating and infrastructure knowledge with suppliers’ technology expertise, to design solutions based on collaboration from the start of the process.

The southern section of the ECML has a once in a generation alignment of opportunities to deliver a cost-effective digital railway transformation. The train control system was last substantially upgraded in the 1970s so will need to be renewed, and at the same time many of the trains operating on the route have already been fitted with digital in-cab signalling technology or are soon to come into service.

The procurement process contains provision for two lots to provide one or two partners between York and Manchester rail operating centres (ROCs), developing traffic management for the TransPennine route upgrade programme as well as ECML.

Toufic Machnouk, route programme director, said: “Delivering a high performing railway for passengers is our first priority and we know that deploying traffic management systems will improve network performance by reducing delays and restoring the timetable quickly when disruption takes place.

“We are seeking a private sector technology partner to help us introduce traffic management on both the East Coast Main Line and the TransPennine route, including parts of Greater Manchester. We took the careful and conscious decision to align the technology partner with the railway operating centre, providing a longer-term focus for operational performance, realising efficiencies and ensuring technology compatibility and evolution over time.”

Stuart Calvert, interim managing director of Group Digital Railway, said: “Traffic management will improve the performance of the network and deliver real benefits to passengers. We are pleased to support our route colleagues to transform this vital part of the network by managing this important procurement process. Appointing the right external partner at an early stage will ensure that the industry change required is managed effectively.”

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Notes to editors

The traffic management partner (TMP) will be appointed via a framework contract over an initial four year term that may be extended up to eight years and worth up to £180 million in whole life values. More information can be found in the OJEU notice: 2019/S 097-236105

Procurement for the train control partner (TCP) and RSIP were launched last year, with the TCP likely to be appointed in the summer, and the RSIP following in the autumn.

About Network Rail’s digital railway strategy

Network Rail is committed to deploying digital signalling and train controls when and where they represent good value for money to improve the network’s performance for passengers and freight users.  In the future, major signalling renewals activities are planned to be either digital or digital-ready to pave the way for adoption of the European Train Control Systems (ETCS).  Digital train control is already being deployed on the Thameslink core through London and on Crossrail.  In addition, traffic management tools have been deployed in our Western, Anglia and Wales routes to predict and prevent timetable conflicts and to recover services more quickly when disruption occurs.  For more information, please visit: https://www.networkrail.co.uk/our-railway-upgrade-plan/digital-railway/