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Digital Railway could bring substantial benefits says Transport Committee

28 October 2016  •  Author: Katie Sadler, Digital Content Producer, European Railway Review

Findings of the Transport Committee’s latest report suggests the Digital Railway, could bring substantial benefit to the UK’s rail network.

Digital Railway could bring substantial benefits says Transport Committee

A Transport Committee report entitled Rail technology: signalling and traffic management suggests a move towards a ‘Digital Railway’ could substantially benefit the UK’s rail network.

Digital Railway: a fully implemented, cross-industry delivery plan is needed

The ‘Digital Railway’ covers a range of systems rather than a specific technology. The Transport Committee believes a fully implemented, cross-industry delivery plan is needed but it considers that Network Rail should make sure the right interventions are used on the right routes and must take their time to get it right.

Moreover, the committee recommends that Network Rail undertakes a full cost/benefit analysis which is published for consultation, before finalising its strategy.

“The Digital Railway is an exciting programme which could have real impact”

Commenting on the report, Louise Ellman MP, Chair of the Transport Committee said: “The number of passengers using our rail network is increasing year on year. There is an urgent need to increase capacity and the Digital Railway is an exciting programme which could have real impact. We have seen successes on some metro lines already.

However, measured and realistic plans are essential to the progress of the digital railway. Network Rails needs to keep a firm grip on their plans and they need to include the whole sector. There will need to be a full cost/benefit analysis published case by case, for consultation, before strategies can be finalised. The Department for Transport will need to seek input from rolling stock owners, passenger and freight operating companies, technology suppliers and trade unions representing railway workers.

This is a real opportunity to give the UK’s rail passengers a world class system. Network Rail’s past performance in planning major enhancements has been poor but this is an exciting opportunity to restore confidence by co-ordinating a whole sector approach which delivers real improvements for the passenger and industry.”

“We welcome the Transport Select Committee’s support for the Digital Railway”

Reacting to the findings, Paul Plummer, Chief Executive of the Rail Delivery Group, said: “We welcome the Transport Select Committee’s support for the Digital Railway, which will bring wide-ranging benefits including more punctual and more frequent trains and a safer railway. With many parts of the rail network increasingly full, the Digital Railway will be vital in releasing extra capacity to support future rail growth. Cross-industry collaboration will be vital in bringing forward this plan as efficiently and quickly as possible.”

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