Network Rail Selects Siemens and Atkins as Digital Railway Partners

UK – Network Rail has chosen Siemens and Atkins to work on a large-scale programme to introduce in-cab signalling on the southern section of the East Coast Main Line.

These upgrade works will reduce passenger delays by thousands of hours, says Network Rail. Siemens and Atkins will contribute hugely to the delivery of the East Coast Digital Programme (ECDP). The initial 350 million GBP (375 million euros | 405 million USD) investment in the programme is going towards the introduction of real-time digital signalling along the East Coast Main Line and towards laying the foundations for a nationwide roll-out.

The East Coast Main Line will become the first intercity digital railway in the country, with trains being equipped with in-cab signalling, while old lineside signals are removed. Consequently, signallers will be able to communicate with trains continuously instead of merely at fixed points. They will be able to issue instructions and give responses in real time. All of this will significantly reduce delays and improve performance.


In September 2018 Network Rail launched the procurement process to find a private-sector partner to help with the East Coast Digital Programme. Collaborating with suppliers from the get-go to design, develop and deploy the European Train Control System was a new approach for network rail. The procurement process has now concluded. Siemens will be the programme’s train control partner and traffic management partner. Atkins, meanwhile, will act as rail systems integration partner.

Toufic Machnouk, Programme Director, East Coast Digital Programme, said:

“This is a major step forward in transforming the network for the millions of passengers that use the East Coast Main Line.

“We have adopted a partnership approach across the rail industry to deliver Britain’s first inter-city digital railway, moving away from traditional procurement and bringing together technology providers to set a standard for how digital railway is deployed.

“This is just the beginning of a truly exciting journey that will eventually see digital signalling improving the railway right across the country.”


The section of the East Coast Main Line between King’s Cross and just north of Peterborough has signalling equipment that dates back to the 1970s. It is now reaching the end of its life and is to be renewed over the next few years. The signalling technology will now gradually move to ETCS Level 2 with no lineside signals. 300 passenger and freight trains will get the new technology.

A third of the population lives within 20 minutes of an ECML station, producing more than 40 percent of the UK’s GDP. Every year the line delivers more than 80 million passenger journeys and moves tens of millions of freight tons worth 30 billion GBP (32 billion euros | 34.5 billion USD).

The value of the framework agreement with Siemens is worth in excess of 1 billion GBP (1.07 billion euros | 1.15 billion USD) for both the train control partner and the traffic management partner elements.

The value of the agreement with Atkins is worth in the region of 55 million GBP (59 million euros | 63 million USD) for the rail systems integration partner element.

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