Infrastructure Insights: Signalling

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Signalling is the ‘traffic light system’ of the railway, and we’re working to replace outdated signalling systems across the country to improve reliability and safety for passengers.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

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

Our signalling projects across Britain have included:

Norwich, Yarmouth and Lowestoft

Upgrades to the signalling system on the Norwich, Yarmouth and Lowestoft railway lines started in October 2017.

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


A £200m project starting in July 2018 has relaid new track and improved 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 been the biggest rail investment in Derby station for decades and a key part of the Midland Mainline upgrade.

Preston to Blackpool

We have upgraded 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.

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, involves signalling infrastructure installed across the route, with systems transferred to York ROC.


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.