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Network Rail 30 year signalling strategy to protect railway heritage

Network Rail’s operating strategy, announced in July, would see the signalling control of all trains on the network transferred to 14 rail operating centres, cutting more than £250m a year from the cost of Britain’s railway whilst improving capacity and performance.

It would mean more than 800 signal boxes currently in operation across England, Wales and Scotland becoming redundant, including around 40 which currently have listed building status in England alone.

Network Rail, the National Railway Museum, English Heritage, Historic Scotland and the Railway Heritage Trust met recently to discuss how these important pieces of railway history and the way of life associated with them can best be recorded and represented for future generations. It was agreed that a comprehensive review of all signal boxes would be carried out and a process put in place to identify boxes which are of particular historical significance and should be preserved.

Tom Higginson, Network Rail head of town planning, said: “Our operating strategy would see a huge acceleration in the number of signal boxes decommissioned each year, so it is vital that we have plans in place to deal with that sensitively and sustainably.

“Identifying the most significant signal boxes so that they are safeguarded for future generations is something we are all committed to – it is important that they have a life after the national railway network has finished with them.”