Moving our railways into the digital age, reducing overcrowding & cutting delays

Policy North welcomes announcement that will move our railways into the digital age, reduce overcrowding and cut delays. 

Earlier today the Transport Secretary Chris Grayling and Network Rail Chief Executive Mark Carne launched the ‘Digital Railway Strategy’. It will ensure train journeys become faster, more punctual, more frequent and safer with the introduction of innovative digital technology across the rail network. 

The newly unveiled strategy will ensure all new trains and signalling are digital or digital ready from 2019. This will allow more frequent services resulting in lower rates of overcrowding, cut delays by allowing trains to get moving more rapidly without disruption, safely allow more trains to run per hour by running trains closer together, and enable vastly improved mobile and wi-fi connectivity – allowing passengers to make the most of their travel time.

This is a revolutionary step that marks the shift of our railways and travel infrastructure into the digital age as we stand on the precipice of the upcoming and highly anticipated 4th industrial revolution. 

Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, said: 

“We are investing in the biggest modernisation of our railway since Victorian times to deliver what passengers want to see – faster, more reliable and more comfortable journeys.

“Passenger numbers have doubled in recent years – which means we need to invest in new technology to help deliver the reliable and frequent trains that passengers want.

“Investing in a railway fit for the twenty-first century will help the UK become a world leader in rail technology, boosting exports and skills. As we celebrate the Year of Engineering, this is a chance to show young people how digital innovation is opening doors to careers that will shape the future of travel.”

The introduction of new innovative digital rail technology will make sure the best use is made of the £48 billion that is being invested in modernisation of railways across the UK between 2019 and 2024. This renewal will include new and replacement signalling. The Government has also announced a £450 million budget specifically for digital railway schemes. 

Policy North is confident that when our national rail infrastructure is improved, the north of England will benefit from the boost in national connectivity, creating stronger links between the northern economy and the rest of the UK. We welcome the £5 million the government has set aside for Network Rail to develop proposals for embedding digital technology between Manchester and York. The £3 billion upgrade of that route, which is due to start next year, is what we and passengers have been calling for, so we are eager to see work get underway.