UK rail operator Network Rail has launched its Digital Railway Strategy in a bid to ensure that all new trains and signalling become digital or digital-ready from next year.

The new digital technology is expected to increase the frequency of trains and reduce the distance between two operating trains, as well as significantly improve mobile and internet connectivity on board.

The digitisation is also expected to reduce delays by enabling trains to resume operations faster following disruptions or incidents.

“Investing in a railway fit for the 21st century will help the UK become a world leader in rail technology, boosting exports and skills.”

Furthermore, digital signalling will provide real-time information about the network to drivers. They will also be aware of the location of other trains.

UK Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “Passenger numbers have doubled in recent years, which means we need to invest in new technology to help deliver the reliable and frequent trains that passengers want.

“Investing in a railway fit for the 21st century will help the UK become a world leader in rail technology, boosting exports and skills.”

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By GlobalData

The technology is set become operational on the Thameslink service in central London from next year, while the Digital Railway Strategy is being launched in York on the Transpennine route.

Network Rail chief executive Mark Carne said: “Today’s commitment is to adopt and roll-out new digital technology, for both trains and track, that will deliver faster more frequent services for passengers and businesses alike, giving our economy a massive boost.”

Digital railway technology is also expected to make optimum usage of the £48bn investment in UK’s railway network from 2019 to 2024. The investment includes £450m for digital railway schemes.