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Innovation and improvements the priority as Network Rail and Dutch rail infrastructure manager ProRail sign new deal

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Thursday 24 Aug 2023

Innovation and improvements the priority as Network Rail and Dutch rail infrastructure manager ProRail sign new deal

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Automated inspection, acoustic monitoring using fibre optic cables and other technological improvements are among the developments being worked on as part of a partnership between British railway infrastructure company Network Rail and its Dutch equivalent, ProRail.

The pair signed a Memorandum of Understanding at The Hague on Friday, August 18, to continue their partnership. The MOU follows several years of close working on new tech including cab signalling system ERTMS Level 3 and Fibre Optic Acoustic Sensing, and builds on a previous MOU signed five years ago.

Robert Ampomah, Network Rail’s chief rail technology officer, said: “Network Rail and ProRail are both dedicated to running more reliable railways for passengers and freight customers, and we share many of the same challenges and opportunities. As well as new tech, we already share information on trespassing, managing our assets and even the impact of how Artificial Intelligence can help improve the way we work.

“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.”

Karel van Gils, ProRail Director of Innovation and Technical Renewal said: “ProRail and Network Rail have similar challenges in modernising and transforming their railway. Capacity needs to grow, whereas the railway systems and assets are aging and work forces are scarce. 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.”

Keith Allan, Deputy Head of Mission at the British Embassy, The Hague, said: “I was delighted to host representatives from Network Rail and ProRail at the Ambassador’s Residence for the MoU signing. 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”.

The developments created between the two companies in the past five years such as FOAS will continue. Going forward, the pair aim to progress in the digital railway, asset management, measurement trains and embankment stability.  

Notes to Editors

The MOU came from Network Rail’s International Research and Development Partnerships team lead by Programme Manager Felicity Osborn, Senior Consultant Taron Smart, along with Arjen Zoeteman, International Engagement Manager for ProRail.

About Network Rail

We own, operate and develop Britain’s railway infrastructure; that’s 20,000 miles of track, 30,000 bridges, tunnels and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations. We run 20 of the UK’s largest stations while all the others, over 2,500, are run by the country’s train operating companies.

Usually, there are almost five million journeys made in the UK and over 600 freight trains run on the network. People depend on Britain’s railway for their daily commute, to visit friends and loved ones and to get them home safe every day. Our role is to deliver a safe and reliable railway, so we carefully manage and deliver thousands of projects every year that form part of the multi-billion pound Railway Upgrade Plan, to grow and expand the nation’s railway network to respond to the tremendous growth and demand the railway has experienced – a doubling of passenger journeys over the past 20 years.

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