Billions of pounds will be invested in railway signalling over the next five years to improve the reliability of systems on Britain’s railways, potentially enabling more trains to run.

Five framework contracts – worth an estimated £2.4bn over Control Period 6 (2019-2024), and up to £3.6bn including options to extend for the first two years of Control Period 7 (2024-2026) – will improve asset reliability and in turn reduce delays for the users of the railway – passengers and freight operators, while also increasing capacity on the network.

The frameworks, which went live on 31 January 2020, are split into five geographical lots. They have been awarded to:

  • Alstom (Southern Region and Eastern region)
  • Siemens Mobility Ltd (Scotland Region and North West & Central region)
  • A joint venture between Hitachi Rail STS UK Ltd and Linbrooke Services Ltd (Wales & Western region)

These frameworks form part of a much wider new approach to commerciality for Network Rail, as it becomes more focused on securing better deals with the supply chain to deliver a better-value railway for passengers. The company’s ambition is to become easier to work with and a more efficient and dependable partner, while breaking down barriers to make it easier for other organisations to invest in and build on the railway. Through a comprehensive efficiency portfolio encompassing over 1,000 initiatives, Network Rail will save £3.5bn over CP6.

Paul Wright, Network Rail’s commercial director, said: ‘The major signalling frameworks are the final awards in a three-tier approach to signalling delivery for Control Period 6. The awards have gone to suppliers that, between them, have many years of signalling experience and will help Network Rail facilitate key signalling renewals safely and efficiently. We look forward to working with the successful suppliers to deliver signalling projects that are truly on the side of passengers and freight users.’

Nick Crossfield, Managing Director, Alstom UK & Ireland, said: ‘Signalling is the backbone of a safe, reliable and high performance rail network for passengers. Alstom are proud to have been trusted by Network Rail to deliver these planned improvements in their two biggest regions over the next four years. We will be increasing the use of digital technology and automation, reducing cost and increasing reliability, and building on successful projects such as the Bristol Area Signalling Renewals and Enhancements Alstom delivered in the Western region last year. Inclusivity and diversity are at the heart of our plan, and we look forward to creating hundreds of new highly skilled jobs and up to 270 apprenticeships as we do so.’

Rob Morris, Managing Director Rail Infrastructure for Siemens Mobility Limited, said: ‘These framework awards are great news, building on our strong relationship with Network Rail and an outstanding delivery record of which we are extremely proud. From Thameslink in London to the Highlands of Scotland, we have safely and successfully commissioned projects of varying scale and complexity, all which have increased the availability and performance of the railway.’

Speaking on behalf of the Consortia, Jim Brewin, UK Country Lead, Hitachi Rail, and Jason Pearce, Managing Director, Linbrooke Rail, said: ‘On behalf of both organisations, this award is a significant honour and a reflection of our individual companies’ successful track records in supporting UK rail. Working with our Wales and Western Network Rail partners, the consortia intend to deliver industry challenging connectivity and signalling technology for the benefit of passengers. We intend to draw upon Hitachi’s global solutions and products in order to improve people’s quality of life.’