Network Rail signal

UK: Network Rail has responded to the recommendations in the Office of Rail & Road’s study into ways of increasing the number of suppliers in the signalling market in order to reduce costs and improve performance, efficiency and innovation.

The study, published by ORR last November, said that the signalling market in Great Britain is worth £800m to £900m per year and is expected to expand significantly. It is dominated by Siemens and Alstom, which account for over 90% of Network Rail’s major signalling spend.

In its response to ORR, Network Rail says it generally supports the report’s conclusions, whilst noting limitations in the data used and saying the conclusions must be considered in the context of the wider rail industry and the European signalling market.

Network Rail said:

  • it would work with ORR to report additional information to improve transparency and inform decision making about signalling renewal market performance;
  • forthcoming contracts for the roll-out of ETCS are expected to be materially different from the approach used over recent control periods, and it intends to create several long-term, national collaborative relationships with suppliers which will lower barriers to entering the market and provide more certain visibility of supplier return on investment;
  • it will improve commercial and technical obligations and incentives around interfacing to encourage a more open approach and to realise opportunities provided by the European Initiative to Linking Interlocking Systems;
  • it will implement additional activities and incentives to encourage, review and manage the achievement of an appropriate balancing of works;
  • it will strengthen the linkage between supplier tendering success and volumes of work delivered in forthcoming ETCS delivery relationships. Network Rail will also require signalling innovation funding in its CP7 research and development funding.

‘We are pleased that Network Rail’s assessment of the challenges in the signalling systems market are aligned with ours and it is progressing with plans to remedy them’, said ORR Chief Executive John Larkinson on April 21.

’These initiatives can play a key role in reducing the cost of signalling, meaning Network Rail’s funds can go further. The transformation to a digital railway presents an opportunity to reinvigorate the signalling market with improved value for money. This can play an important role in helping Network Rail meet the fiscal challenges of the post-pandemic world.’