Financing the Digital Railway of the future – is private the answer?

The Digital Railway (DR) programme is fundamental to the modernisation of the UK’s rail network and its progression towards an intelligent transport system. In April 2017, DfT will begin assessing business cases for the latest pipeline of DR enhancements. While an important step forward for the UK rail technology industry, it is expected that only half may receive funding in the short term. With the level of long-term Government commitments also uncertain, Keir Pimblett takes a look at how private finance might be unlocked to fill the void.

In April 2017, up to eight business cases will be submitted to the Department for Transport (DfT), each aiming for a slice of the £450 million earmarked for the implementation Digital Railway in the 2016 Autumn Statement. These route-specific plans focus on schemes where the introduction of digital technologies will deliver the maximum benefits, particularly in relation to capacity; a new and targeted approach adopted by Network Rail.

However, only half of these projects are expected to receive short-term funding and the level of long-term commitments (the Government’s Control Period 6 (CP6) settlement) are uncertain.


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