The single supplier framework has an estimated value of up to £1.8bn with a duration of up to eight years and covers the line from London King’s Cross to Stoke Tunnel south of Grantham together with the Moorgate branch in London and the Hertford Loop.

NR says it is adopting a new way of working with its London North Eastern and East Midlands routes teaming up with a supplier early in the development process to deploy ETCS on a whole-life basis, working together on design, planning, phasing and cost estimation.

NR expects to award the contract in spring 2019.

“There is a compelling case for a digital transformation on this southern section of the ECML,” says Mr David Waboso, NR managing director, Group Digital Railway. “The big challenge of digital railway is the integration of the infrastructure and rolling stock, and with the need for asset renewal coming at the same time as 70% of passenger trains being fitted, we are presented with a huge opportunity to align track and train in an efficient way.

“The procurement is being done in a radically different way and will build on the key learnings from our Early Contractor Involvement programme. We seek a long-term relationship based on genuine partnership, extending for the whole of the asset life.”