The UK’s Network Rail has started the process to select a new partner to overhaul and digitise the East Coast Mainline (ECML).

The company is seeking a technology partner to team up with its London North Eastern and East Midlands (LNE & EM) route and help devise designs and plans for the new project.

Network Rail and the new partner will work together to deploy the modern signalling European Train Control System (ETCS) (in-cab signalling) on the ECML route.

The ECML digitalisation project would start with the route’s southern end and increase the line’s capacity and resilience.

Additionally, the deployment of ETCS on the 100-mile long section of the line will increase operational safety and reduce long-term costs.

“We are establishing a route transformation that will bring track and train closer together through the deployment of digital technologies.”

LNE & EM route managing director Rob McIntosh said: “This is an extraordinary and exciting opportunity that will have a significant and sustained impact on the future of the railway and the economies and communities we serve.

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“We are establishing a route transformation that will bring track and train closer together through the deployment of digital technologies.

“To achieve this, we are seeking a partner in the truest sense of the word; moving away from traditional input-based procurement, and instead buying a long-term relationship based on industry outcomes.”

The ECML digitalisation is the first project to be carried out under the government’s digital strategy unveiled in May.

The train control system on the line, which was last upgraded in the 1970s, will be modernised in the upcoming control periods.

Simultaneously, many new trains currently operational or soon to be on the line will be equipped with digital in-cab signalling technology.