The UK Department for Transport (DfT) has announced a £350m investment for the East Coast Main Line to finance the installation of electronic signalling.

With this technology, the rail line will be the first mainline digital rail link in the country. This is expected to reduce journey times and decrease delays.

This funding follows the £1.2bn investment to upgrade the rail line and will be used to update traditional signalling with a digital system that permits trains to communicate with the track.

Around one-third of the population in the UK lives within 20 minutes of a station on the East Coast Mainline and produce 41% of the GDP.

This new technology will allow the signallers to know where the trains are located during the journey.

The smart signalling system identifies the different trains and helps the railcar to communicate with the track continuously.

UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “As the country recovers from Covid-19, we want to speed up our economy and reap the benefits of new transport technology. The Victorians gave us the world’s first great rail network and now it’s our turn to be modern transport pioneers and build on that great tradition.

“Upgrading this country’s conventional signalling system, and giving drivers technology fit for the 21st century, will boost train performance, cut delays, improve safety and support the supply chain.

“This is just the beginning. In time, we will digitise signalling right across the country to make good on our promise of better reliability and punctuality for passengers.

“Passengers shouldn’t have to worry about missing connections or being late home to see their children, and I’ve been clear that getting the trains to run on time is a personal priority.”

Work is currently underway with Network Rail to deploy digital signalling on other routes such as West Coast Main Line, Midland Main Line and Anglia from 2026.

The government will also provide £12m to fit 33 trains with digital signalling equipment on the Midland Main Line.

In August 2018, the East Coast Main Line improvement plan was approved by the then-UK Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling.