UK rail owner Network Rail has completed work on a £375m ($472m) project to install digital signalling equipment in the Wokingham area in southern England. 

The five-year project saw the modernisation of the 1970s signalling technology still in use in the area to ensure more efficient and safer travel for trains on the line between Reading, London, and Guildford. 

Matt Pocock, Network Rail’s Wessex route director, said: “I’m pleased to see the completion of the final piece of this complex and challenging jigsaw puzzle. 

“The new digital signals have replaced the old equipment which became unreliable and harder to maintain and the new state of the art signalling will improve the reliability of this key stretch of railway and in turn help reduce delays for our customers.” 

The entire programme included the installation of 500 pieces of signalling equipment across 80 miles of railway, the upgrading of 16 levels crossings, the renewal of a double railway junction, and the transferral of signalling control between Feltham and Wokingham to the Rail Operating Centre (ROC) in Basingstoke. 

Network Rail said the programme, designed and delivered by AtkinsRéalis, would allow signallers to communicate more effectively by being in the same room at the ROC, thus improving train performance and reducing delays while also increasing safety. 

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Wokingham is just one of many areas across the UK to undergo a re-signalling programme as Network Rail looks to update its infrastructure and bring tracks in line with modern signalling technology such as the European Train Control System (ETCS). 

Other projects have included a £116m programme in South West London and the switching on of ETCS systems on Great Northern trains in London as part of the £1.4bn East Coast Digital Programme.