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TransPennine rail route set for digital signalling

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Government is taking forward plans for Britain’s first digitally controlled intercity railway in the north of England, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling announced last week.

Network Rail will now look at options for embedding digital signalling technology on the TransPennine route between Manchester, Leeds and York to improve safety and journey time reliability.

The organisation will receive up to £5M to develop its proposals. This includes looking at a system of advanced train traffic management – so that a computer works out how to route the trains most efficiently along the line.

The initiative forms part of the on-going Great North Rail Project, which is expected to see TransPennine journey times between Leeds and Manchester fall to just 40 minutes.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “We are about to see a digital revolution in our railways, and we want the north to lead the way. New technology on the Manchester to York route will help us deliver a more reliable and safer railway, with more space for passengers.”

He added: “Travel will be transformed across the north as we invest £13Bn to improve journeys, expand our motorways, scrap the outdated Pacer trains, and spend £55Bn on HS2 to cut journey times between our great northern cities.”

Developing proposals for digital control on the TransPennine route is to be paid for from a £450M digital railway fund announced by the Chancellor in the Autumn Statement last year.

On the London Underground three lines already have digital in-cab signalling, which has meant trains can safely run closer together.

Meanwhile the Thameslink programme will use digital technologies to allow 24 trains an hour to run through the centre of the capital from December 2018 on just two tracks. Crossrail trains will also run with in-cab signalling.

Photo: El Pollock [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons