Digital Railway long-term deployment plan

The Digital Railway transformation is about delivering a more dynamic, responsive and fit-for-purpose railway for rail users in the digital age. 

Adopting digital train control technologies will enable us to deliver our services more efficiently and more cost effectively, than with conventional technologies. By working together, we are pursuing our digital strategy to realise benefits, to provide improved capacity, performance, safety and sustainability. 

Progress is being made with the East Coast Digital Programme, the first deployment of digital signalling using the European Train Control System (ETCS) on an intercity mainline. The Long Term Deployment Plan provides a strategy for the wider deployment of ETCS across the network.  

The 2019 Long Term Deployment Plan 

Note:  The projected timeline and sequence of ETCS deployment set out in the 2019 Long Term Deployment Plan and associated maps have evolved since publication and are for historical reference only.  The principles of the Long Term Deployment Plan as set out below continue to underpin the development of the signalling renewals workbank and the digital signalling portfolio in CP7 (see below).   

Digital signalling and train control technology will deliver significant benefits to passengers.  In response to a request from the Secretary of State for Transport, the Digital Railway Programme developed in 2019 a Long Term Deployment Plan (LTDP) that proposes a partnership approach between Network Rail, the train operating companies (both freight and passenger), the rail industry supply chain and the Department for Transport.  As the delivery of digital signalling requires multiple stakeholders to work together, fundamental to the success of this proposal is the co-ordination of budgets and asset renewal plans. This plan will also need to iterate over time as technology and network needs matures. 

The LTDP took account of the scale and complexity of fitting out in excess of 4,000 trains and the upgrading of more than 19,000 miles of network on one of the busiest and most intensively operated railway networks in the world.  A network of this size and complexity cannot be migrated to a new form of signalling overnight.  It requires a steady programme of asset renewal alongside fleet fitment to manage the transition to digital technology and also maintain continuity of service for passengers and other rail users. 

The LTDP set out the framework and case for asset renewal based on the replacement schedule for existing conventional signalling and train control assets, showing how modern signalling and train control technology could be delivered in a safe and cost-effective manner across the network: 

  • The LTDP executive summary outlines the case for introducing digital signalling at renewal, aligning both the vehicle fitment strategy as published on the Rail Delivery Group website and infrastructure renewal. 
  • The attached interactive PDF maps illustrate the plan from 2019 of how the Network Rail regions in England and Wales would gradually migrate to digital signalling technology over a the period from 2024, the commencement of CP7. N.B. Scotland’s Railway was included in the LTDP network analysis and has engaged in the process throughout. Since LTDP completion in spring 2019 Scotland has agreed to undertake a Whole System Signalling Review with Transport Scotland and with the support of the Digital Railway Programme. This will iterate their long-term plans as part of the network plan thus this hasn’t been illustrated on the maps at this point.  

The 2019 LTDP was concluded as a viable and necessary plan, provided funding was made available for train fitment and infrastructure renewal to meet the schedules as indicated. 

The 2019 Long Term Deployment Plan documents below should be considered accurate at the point they were published.  These plans continued to be developed and evolved during Control Period 6 so do not reflect the current delivery plans within CP7 and beyond. 

Long-term deployment plan documents

Evolution of the Long Term Deployment Plan in CP6 

Over the course of Control Period 6 we continued to refine and develop the Long Term Deployment Plan with industry stakeholders, in light of changes to the signalling renewals workbank, fleet fitment and cascades.   

The DfT has stated the importance of the migration to digital signalling in their High Level Output Specification for England and Wales in Control Period 7 (2024-2029), with both fleet fitment and infrastructure renewals proposed for funding within the CP7 settlement, and Network Rail’s Strategic Business Plan and forthcoming CP7 Delivery Plan will show the start of this migration in CP7.   

We intend to publish an updated set of maps reflecting the current proposals for signalling renewals and fleet fitment in early CP7. 

Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) 

To deploy digital signalling in the next control period (2024-2029) investment in both rolling stock and scheme development is needed now. As such, Network Rail and the DfT have agreed and signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to serve as a framework to progress digital development. 

The MoU defines clear roles and responsibilities between both parties to make sure that train and infrastructure fitment remains aligned and it shows the commitment and progress from government towards the Rail Sector Deal. 

Download MoU

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