Fibre-Optic Cables Will Bring Britain’s Trains into the 21st Century
Rail |

Fibre-Optic Cables Will Bring Britain’s Trains into the 21st Century

Last week, Network Rail invited the world’s largest infrastructure providers to submit bids worth up to £1 billion to lay a fibre-optic network across the UK alongside its 10,000 miles of railway track.

The development is aimed at upgrading the day-to-day operations of the nation’s trains, playing a critical part in Network Rail’s plan to digitise train travel. For years, passengers have railed against issues regarding connectivity outages along their journeys, so laying fibre-optic infrastructure parallel to the track will enable crucial strides to be made forward in resolving this. The plans will also improve the safety and general operation of the railway, levelling it up to compete more closely with its European counterparts. With Germany opening bids to lay its fibre optic network up to third parties back in 2019 and the Netherlands doing the same last year, Network Rail’s latest proposal will give the UK the chance to catch-up with its European neighbours. The UK’s current major rail projects, such as HS2, will deliver significant improvements to network efficiency and capacity, but the future of rail is likely to embrace even newer technology, such superconducting magnetic levitation (SCMaglev), that is only beginning to emerge for practical use in countries like Japan now.

Government ministers are in favour of the proposals as they will help them to make good on campaign promises of nationwide connectivity and access to fast and reliable wifi. In 2017, the Government promised that the use of fast broadband would become a legal right for every household and so, it's clear that Network Rail’s plan has come at just the right time.

The process will involve Network Rail replacing the copper cabling it has relied upon for over fifty years with fibre-optic cables and in doing so, transport the UK’s railway into the 21st Century. The enhanced telecoms connectivity will enable Network Rail to digitise its signalling and introduce track-side sensors, ultimately improving safety and minimising the disruptions and delays that many now synonymise with British train travel.

For those looking to gain the ever more essential qualification to lay fibre-optic cabling, you can find the appropriate training here. A nationally recognised qualification by City & Guilds, the course is designed for installation technicians, supervisors who will be installing fibre-optic systems, managers and engineers who require an introduction to both the theoretical and practical aspects of fibre-optics, test engineers and maintenance staff, who are required to perform routine maintenance or emergency fault finding and repair.


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