With the right strategy, built for the digital age, the railway can achieve a step-change in capacity for both passenger and freight trains to run safely on existing track.
Targeting digital systems to improve capacity and performance on the railway
A digital railway benefits passengers, freight, UK businesses and the economy
By targeting digital system upgrades in the places where we can increase capacity and improve performance, a digital railway will deliver:
- More trains, reduced crowding, better connections and improved performance and safety for passengers. It also enables the industry to provide real time information about journeys.
- Increased freight capacity for moving around goods, greater availability of paths, optimised running (energy efficiencies), a stable environment for growth, timetable flexibility and greater customer satisfaction.
- Jobs, housing and economic growth. Greater workforce mobility through improved connectivity that links more people with higher paid jobs. Creation of new high skilled engineering jobs.
- Regional and national growth and jobs through increased opportunities to export expertise internationally, building our world leading rail industry.
The Digital Railway programme is the industry transformation programme that will make this happen.
Capacity for Growth
Passenger numbers have doubled since 1996 and are set to double again over the next 25 years. We are running more trains and adding more carriages, but with these changes alone we cannot meet projected demand. And the Department for Transport’s (DfT) Rail Freight Study also shows the growing demand for rail freight services in recent years.
Long term demographic trends like population growth and urbanisation mean more people travelling within and between major cities and city regions. People in urban areas use public transport to get to work but major stations like Birmingham New Street, Kings Cross, Leeds, Euston, Manchester Piccadilly, Paddington, London Victoria and London Bridge which connect into and between our major urban areas are already full at peak times.
Better performance and additional capacity will enable more people and goods to travel more reliably into and between cities.
A digital system upgrade will deliver benefits safely and cost effectively
We need to find a way to get more performance out of our existing railway and manage our network more efficiently. Where capacity is needed and we have exhausted low disruption conventional enhancements, a system upgrade of digital + enabling conventional works is the best option to address the challenge.
This will deliver capacity and performance improvements sooner and at comparable or lower cost than conventional only works. It does this through unlocking the maximum capacity potential of the existing infrastructure through a system upgrade.
A better experience for passenger and freight customers
Early analysis shows that performance can be improved by up to 10% in terms of reduction on current delay minutes and significantly more capacity can be released from the network where it is most needed. This means more trains, improved punctuality and better recovery from incidents for passengers. Greater availability of the network and improved fuel consumption will enable rail freight to better compete with road haulage.