UK: Network Rail has confirmed its intention to directly award Hitachi Rail Europe a £30m contract to supply a traffic management system for the Sussex area of its South East Route and the East London Line.

NR has identified traffic management as a priority for investment under its Digital Railway Programme during the next five-year Control Period 6 starting on April 1 2019.

Traffic management is expected to offer a range of operational benefits more rapidly than resignalling, with NR citing improvements in performance and reliability as well as faster recovery from disruption on an increasingly crowded network.

The South East Route has been identified as one of eight priority projects in the Digital Railway programme, and procurement of traffic management for the Kent area has been specified under the Southeastern train operating franchise which is currently being re-tendered.

Several of the main lines in the Sussex area are covered by the Tranista traffic management system which Hitachi is supplying for use at NR’s Three Bridges Rail Operating Centre under the Thameslink Programme; work is now underway to interface this with the ATO and driver advisory systems fitted to the Thameslink fleet of Siemens-built Class 700 EMUs.

Because London Overground’s East London Line and the remaining lines in Sussex form six ‘geographically isolated areas’ which directly interface with the Thameslink control area, NR has determined that adopting a different traffic management system for those routes ‘would result in the introduction of multiple operational fringe/technical edge cases that could potentially cause significant degradation to performance, significant additional workload and potential for error in route-wide train service management.’

It therefore decided that the best option would be to procure compatible technology from Hitachi as an add-on to the Thameslink contract under a negotiated procedure, without a prior call for competition.

According to Network Rail, an Outline Business Case to deploy traffic management on the remaining parts of Sussex is due to be submitted to the Department for Transport in November for formal review and approval. Any contract award would follow approval of the Full Business Case, which is scheduled for autumn 2019.