SNC-Lavalin Group, the parent company of Atkins, has signed an agreement with the UK railway owner and operator Network Rail to deliver an advanced signalling equipment test facility.

Under the ten-year deal, the company will design, deliver and operate the new National ETCS Test Verification, Validation and Integration Laboratory in collaboration with Multitel.

This test facility will support the installation of the European Train Control System (ETCS), as well as the European Rail Traffic Management System across the rail network.

The testing will facilitate the safe and efficient modernisation of the UK’s railway network.

Atkins president Philip Hoare said: “This new facility represents a significant milestone in the transformation of the UK’s railway network that puts the passenger first through the introduction of cutting-edge technology that increases punctuality, reliability, capacity and safety.

“We are now working closely alongside Network Rail and the wider supply chain to help realise the significant benefits of next-generation, digital signalling technology.”

The new laboratory is currently being installed at SNC-Lavalin’s Signalling Integration Centre located in South East England. It is expected to become completely operational by February next year.

The company claimed that the Nationwide ETCS Check Verification, Validation and Integration Laboratory will be the only facility in the UK capable of testing cyber security, ETCS equipment, and the independent integration of multiple suppliers’ equipment.

Earlier this month, a Thales Ground Transportation Systems-led consortium secured a contract from Network Rail to develop and test fibre optic acoustic sensing (FOAS) technology.