Green light for new ORR signalling market probe


The rail regulator has opened a new market study into the supply of rail signalling systems.

The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) said the study would ‘ensure the signalling supply chain is fair and competitive’.


It pointed out that signalling accounted for more than £4bn of Network Rail’s spend between 2014 and 2019, and that spending is forecast to increase significantly as digital technology is rolled out across the network.

The regulator said the study builds on previous work into signalling, notably ORR’s engagement with the European Commission about the proposed merger of Siemens/Alstom.

It closed a previous study in April ‘to ensure efforts were focused on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic’.

Head of competition Tom Cole said the ORR considers that it is now the right time to open this market study as industry personnel and evidence are likely to be available.

He said: ‘Signalling systems are an essential part of the railway. They keep passengers safe by ensuring trains do not come into conflict with each other and play a key role in freeing up capacity on the network.

‘The ability for Network Rail to drive value for money when buying high-quality signalling systems is vital to its delivery of a reliable and efficient railway.’

The study will:

  • focus on the supply chain for the delivery of significant ‘major’ signalling projects;
  • look at the strength of competition for tenders, and, incentives to compete in the market;
  • consider whether there are any barriers to innovation, or market entry and the introduction of new technology; and
  • look closely at the ability of the supply chain to build up capacity for the rollout of the digital railway.

The ORR said recommendations or interventions arising from the study will ensure the supply chain capable of building up capacity for the rollout out of the digital railway.


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