Digital East Coast to go ahead with �1bn budget

THE government has confirmed that the upgrade to ETCS on the East Coast Main Line is to go ahead, with a budget of more than £1 billion. The digital system has been under test for some time on part of the Hertford Loop, controlled from laboratories at Hitchin. ETCS will cover the main line from London King’s Cross to Stoke Tunnel, which is just south of Grantham and where the four track line becomes double.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps is still embroiled in railway industrial disputes. He said: ‘While union bosses waste time touring television studios and standing on picket lines, I am busy getting on with the job at hand and modernising our railway. The world is changing and, despite the best efforts of unions, I am determined to help our railway change with it.’

Toufic Machnouk, the director of industry partnership for digital railway at Network Rail, said: ‘We are delighted to have been given the go ahead for this ground-breaking programme that will transform the capability and resilience of the East Coast Main Line and be a key enabler for the wider network.’ He continued that the East Coast Digital Programme is ‘uniquely bringing together all elements of track and train through a pioneering industry partnership that is working beyond boundaries in a deep collaboration. We will upskill our people and use new technology to improve the way we work for the benefit of passengers and freight customers.’ 

The ECDP will provide a much-needed financial boost to the industry and over its lifetime will 42 per cent cheaper than the current system, according to the Department for Transport. It will also help the government towards its Net Zero goal by decreasing carbon emissions by 55,000 tonnes – the equivalent of more than 65,000 flights from London to New York.

LNER managing director David Horne said: ‘Digital signalling will allow the full potential of our Azuma fleet technology to be realised, and means our customers will benefit from even more reliable and sustainable journeys in the future.’ Thameslink and Great Northern’s managing director Tom Moran added: ‘We’re delighted with this announcement, which will mean better services in the future for our passengers on the East Coast Main Line. This massive investment builds on our work to implement digital signalling on the Northern City Line into Moorgate in the City of London, and it means we can continue to roll out the technology on some of our key routes.’