Over 230 miles of cabling have been laid over the last 15 months and will link 64 new LED colour light signals for Birmingham New Street station.
Signals are an essential part of the railway and act as traffic lights do for road vehicles, keeping trains on the move safely.
The work has seen the construction of ten new equipment buildings alongside the installation of 60 axle counters-equipment on railway lines which show signallers where the train is on the network exactly.
Until the end of 2022, control of the system will be ongoing at the Grade II listed Birmingham New Street Power Signal Box on Brunel Street.
Built during the 1960s, the switching systems have been hard at work keeping trains moving for decades.
As all signals and equipment through the station are now up to 21st-century standards, the staged decommissioning of New Street’s power signal box can get underway.
Christmas 2022 will see the complete switch over to the new system and will be the final piece in the signalling jigsaw, which has been undergoing improvements through the wider West Midlands areas since 2005.
The work carried out at New Street is the most difficult stage of the project, with rolling platform closures underway since April 2021.
Denise Wetton, Network Rail’s Central route director, said:
“This once-in-a-generation overhaul of the station’s signalling equipment, at one of Britain’s most important stations, has been a huge challenge and we thank passengers for their patience while we’ve had to close platforms over the last 15 months.
“When complete this Christmas the West Midlands will have large areas using one of the most modern signalling systems anywhere in Britain which will help provide a safe, reliable and high-performing railway for decades to come.”
Lucy Wootton, head of the Grand Railway Collaboration, said:
“A modern, state-of-the-art signalling system is essential for a safe and reliable railway in the West Midlands. This milestone is a big step towards better and safer journeys for millions of passengers for decades to come.”
Malcolm Holmes, executive director for West Midlands Rail Executive, said:
“With Birmingham New Street at the centre of the national rail network, it is vital for the West Midlands and Britain that the signalling system which manages trains travelling in and out is the best it can be. The industry has worked together to plan and deliver this major upgrade which will be brought into permanent use later this year.”
To find out more about how signals work, please visit: https://www.networkrail.co.uk/stories/signals-explained/