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Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has announced plans for Britain’s first digital intercity railway in the north as the government invests £13 billion in improving journeys across the region.
The Great North Rail Project will see upgrades or the TransPennine route between Manchester, Leeds and York, with plans to minimise journey times between Leeds and Manchester to 40 minutes from 2020.
Digital signalling technology, which is already in use on three lines of the London Underground, will deliver a more reliable and safer railway, with Network Rail receiving up to £5 million to develop proposals for embedding digital technology between Manchester and York, including a system of advanced train traffic management so that a computer works out how to route the trains most efficiently along the line.
Proposals for digital-control on the TransPennine route is to be paid for from a £450 million digital railway fund announced by the Chancellor in the Autumn Statement last year.
Grayling said: “We are about to see a digital revolution in our railways, and we want the north to lead the way. New technology on the Manchester to York route will help us deliver a more reliable and safer railway, with more space for passengers. Travel will be transformed across the north as we invest £13 billion to improve journeys, expand our motorways, scrap the outdated Pacer trains, and spend £55 billion on HS2 to cut journey times between our great northern cities.”
In addition to the technology being used on the London Underground, the capital’s Thameslink programme will also use digital technologies so that 24 trains per hour can run through the centre of the city from December 2018 on two tracks with two platforms. Crossrail trains will also run with in-cab signalling.
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