The Transport Committee launches its inquiry on rail technology, which focuses specifically on signalling and traffic management.
The Digital Railway is seen by some as a necessary response to ever increasing growth in demand for rail services. Signalling and traffic management technology are a key part of Network Rail’s Digital Railway programme. The European Train Control System (ETCS), and the European Railway Traffic Management System (ERTMS) of which it is a component, will replace existing signalling infrastructure, offering the potential of better reliability and increased capacity on the network.
Purpose of the inquiry
The Transport Committee is looking at the plans for deploying new digital technologies and how they will impact the use of the network by passenger and freight services. The Committee also examines how traffic management technology can improve how timetables are planned by bringing in real-time traffic management and how the ongoing centralisation of signalling responsibilities to large Rail Operating Centres is achieving this.
The particular areas of interest to the Committee are:
- The efficiency of Network Rail’s planned roll-out of ERTMS and ETCS across the rail network.
- How the state of current GSM-Railway technology (a standard for wireless technology used for railway communication and applications) impacts rail infrastructure.
- How realistic the timings proposed in Network Rail’s “Digital Railway” programme are and how these will be achieved.
- How changes to Network Rail’s Enhancement Delivery Plan following the Hendy Review will impact the rollout of ETCS/ERTMS systems.
- How the transfer of signalling responsibilities to Rail Operating Centres (ROCs) is proceeding, and what implications this transfer has for the overall rollout of new signalling and traffic management technology.
- What legislative and other action the Government could take to support the rate of change in signalling and traffic management technology.
- Whether timetable planning is suitably optimised to meet demand for both passenger and freight rail, and how traffic management technology can be used to improve this.
The deadline for written submissions is 6 April 2016.