Thales-VolkerRail consortium appointed to Network Rail’s £4bn Train Control Systems Framework

A Thales and VolkerRail consortium is one of six named on Network Rail’s Train Control Systems Framework, aimed to revolutionise signalling across Britain.

Train Control Systems Framework - Thales VolkerRail logo

From Carlisle to Brighton, this 10 year signalling plan will change the face of Britain’s railway, with modern equipment bringing greater reliability across the country with a mixture of traditional signalling and digital control.

The Train Control Systems Framework, split into two lots for the provision of conventional and digital signalling services, will run from 2024 until 2034 and is worth £4bn. This replaces the previous major signalling frameworks, and has been designed to bring new ways of working between Network Rail and its signalling delivery partners.

The Thales and VolkerRail consortium is one of four named in Lot 2: Digital signalling - using European Train Control System  (ETCS) technology - and is worth up to £3bn over the next decade. Others named include Alstom, AtkinsRealis and CAF joint venture, and Siemens.

ETCS technology allows trains to run closer together and to travel at their best speeds while maintaining safe braking distances.

Throughout the Framework, the new Network Rail Allocation Group will match partners to signalling projects based on a range of factors, to help reduce peaks and troughs of workloads for the partners. This digital transformation of signalling will ultimately help increase safety and efficiency on the rail network, resulting in an improved passenger experience.

Andy Bell, VP, Thales Transport in the UK, commented: “We’re delighted to be part of the Train Control Systems Framework to support Network Rail on its journey towards digital signalling that's paramount to how people experience our railways. The decision to prioritise digital over conventional signalling marks a seismic shift for the UK rail industry. As a leading player in ETCS technology, we’re excited to be at the forefront of this critical transformation, bringing our product innovation and project expertise to deliver a safer, more efficient network for passengers.”

Niall McCreanor, Director VolkerRail Specialist Businesses, commented: “We are pleased to be appointed with our consortium partner Thales on Lot 2 of the framework. This positive step change in digitalising the UK’s signalling system will bring vast benefits, not only to passengers, but also train and freight operators. Our railway systems expertise paired with the technological expertise of Thales will ensure the seamless transition from conventional systems to digital.”