Network Rail, the national body that owns and improves UK rail infrastructure, has agreed to a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with ProRail, its equivalent company in the Netherlands. 

The MoU, which is an informal agreement that is not contractually enforced, extends the partnership initiated by a previous informal deal signed in 2018. 

Network Rail and ProRail said the companies have been working together on improving the cab signalling system ERTMS Level 3 and “Fibre Optic Acoustic Sensing”,

Network Rail’s chief rail technology officer Robert Ampomah said: “Our focus is always to make journeys easier for customers and by sharing information, we can check our findings against another operator, get a better spread of data and test our ideas on different infrastructure too.”

The companies explained the new MoU would focus on automated inspections and acoustic monitoring using fibre optic cables, which were first used in 2021 via a ProRail-Network Rail collaboration and through a deal with French rail engineering company Thales

Karel van Gils, ProRail director of innovation and technical renewal, said: “ProRail and Network Rail have similar challenges in modernising and transforming their railways. Capacity needs to grow, whereas railway systems and assets are ageing and workforces are scarce. 

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“Both Network Rail and ProRail are committed to digitising the railway systems as it will be key for a future-proof, interoperable and reliable, high-capacity railway. We will enhance each other’s efforts in the necessary research and development.”

The agreement was signed in Den Haag (the Hague) at the UK ambassador to the Netherlands’ official residence. 

Keith Allan, deputy head of mission at the British Embassy, said: “I wish the teams every success with their further technical exchange and cooperation. Another great example of the strength of the relationship between our two countries as North Sea neighbours.”