Posted 26th April 2021 | 2 Comments

Network Rail proposes £1bn private sector investment in railway telecoms

PLANS to attract an investment of up to £1 billion from the private sector to modernise railway telecoms have been unveiled by Network Rail.

The money would be used to upgrade up to 16,000km of data cables which run along railway routes by installing fibre optic circuits. These would be more efficient but also offer more capacity than the industry needs, and the surplus could be used by third parties for their telecom services.

Fibre optic cables would make it easier for Network Rail to monitor the condition of structures, such as bridges and cuttings, without so many costly manual inspections, and also lay the foundations for improving the WiFi service used by passengers on board trains, although related equipment, such as masts and the equipment on the trains would also need to be upgraded.

Network Rail chief executive Andrew Haines said: ‘Our telecoms infrastructure requires an upgrade if we are to meet the growing connectivity needs of passengers and the railway itself – particularly to make sure our fibre capacity can handle more data, at greater speed, more reliably.

‘This proposal makes good business sense for all parties. We get a cutting-edge, future-proof telecoms infrastructure; the investor gets a great business opportunity; train passengers in Britain get an improved service for years to come; and the taxpayer saves a significant amount of money.’

Reader Comments:

Views expressed in submitted comments are that of the author, and not necessarily shared by Railnews.

  • Jstraw, Watford

    Presumably the idea is to get the private sector to pay for the installation and then recoup the cost from others using the excess capacity.
    Years ago I was involved in the installation of the works for the then new fibre optic network. To make the network future proof, all the trenches had at least four-way ductwork laid, many had six-way, and each duct was 150 mm diameter. We installed two cables in just one of the ducts. I would suggest there is still lots of spare capacity, and it runs directly past the potential customers
    No mention of 5G transmitters / receivers?
    PS British Waterways had fibre installed along the tow-path years ago!

  • Philip Russell , Carlisle

    Sounds a good idea, let’s hope it can be successful & doesn’t just end up like those well reported Rail + private sector signalling renewal schemes of recent decades that either ran seriously late & over budget or ended up being cancelled altogether

Have Your Say

Please read Guidance Notes for Contributors

Submitted comments are subject to approval prior to public posting. Railnews reserve the right to reject, alter or censor any submissions. Railnews also reserve the right to reproduce submissions in any format.

Railnews may, from time to time, send out marketing emails to subscribers and website users. If you would prefer not to receive these emails, please tick this box.