Last week (10th May 2018) , the British Government in association with Network Rail announced that it would be investing in a digital railway, but what is that?
Basically, for well over a hundred years, railway signalling in the UK is a “block” based system. That is, a pre defined area of railway ‘blocks’ divide up the network, and no two trains can occupy the same block at the same time. In recent years, if a train moves past a red signal in to an occupied block, the onboard safety system (TPWS) will apply the emergency brake. This system albeit very safe, is very inefficient. A better way would be to allow the trains to report their position, speed etc. This would allow trains to run safely at closer distances, and would increase the capacity on the network.
The cost would be high, but as many of the signalling systems in the UK are nearing an upgrade, the spend would not necessarily be in addition to works which have been already identified by Network Rail.
To better explain this, the following video from Network Rail shows the current system of signalling, and how the new digital systems would improve the UK rail network.
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That’s all for now, thanks for reading, I’ll blog again soon.