Digital Signalling Installed as Part of the Great North Rail Project

23 new signals and 109 pieces of associated signalling equipment have been installed around Trafford Park under the Great North Rail Project.

This project, which cost 36 million GBP, has seen the replacement of signalling equipment that was almost forty years old with digital signalling technology (ETCS). The work will improve reliability for passengers and freight on this key route into Manchester. In addition, it will allow longer freight trains to run. Following the completion of this project, the signalling centre in Manchester controls 26 signals.

Roisin Nelson, Sponsor for Network Rail, said: “This major work on this key rail artery into Manchester will transform connectivity for both freight and passengers across the North West. Work like this has never been more important – future proofing this economically important rail link as Britain emerges from the coronavirus pandemic. I’d like to thank passengers and residents for their patience while we delivered these improvements over the last year. The investment will keep passengers on the move, products on supermarket shelves and vital goods going to businesses across the country for decades to come.


The upgrade works began in August 2020 and were completed over the August bank holiday weekend.

New signals being installed as part of Trafford Park upgrade
New signals being installed as part of Trafford Park upgrade

The signalling equipment between Flixton Station and Manchester City Centre has been upgraded and improvements have also been made on the Trafford Park Depot estate. Further, there were signalling improvements to the Freightliner Manchester terminal, DB Cargo & GB Railfreight at the Trafford Park Euro Terminal.

Tim Shakerley, UK Rail Managing Director, Freightliner, said:

“Manchester is a key location for Freightliner with eight trains currently operating on a daily basis to key intermodal ports at Felixstowe, London Gateway and Southampton. This investment will allow us to continue our train lengthening trials which has seen us running the longest intermodal trains in the UK at 775 metres, increasing the efficiency and productivity of our services. Moreover, there are significant environmental gains from running longer and heavier services. Moving more freight from road to rail will help ease congestion on the UK’s busy roads and thereby reduce CO2 emissions within the supply chain.”

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