Network Rail is devising a 30-year strategy to consolidate its signalling control centres to 14 rail operating centres that will offer a cost saving of £250m a year as well as improve performance.

The plan involves modernising hundreds of signal boxes into regional control centres and forms a part of the National Heritage Protection Plan.

Under the new signalling strategy, 800 signal boxes across England, Wales and Scotland will be replaced including around 40 that have attained building status in England.

Network Rail head of town planning Tom Higginson said, "Our operating strategy would see a huge acceleration in the number of signal boxes decommissioned each year, so it is vital that we have plans in place to deal with that sensitively and sustainably."

Network Rail has prepared a list of its historic signal boxes, with help from the Signalling Record Society, and a comprehensive list of all signal boxes will be prepared for the consolidation.

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