TRANSPORT for London (TfL) has awarded Thales and its transmission network technology partner Nokia a contract to renew the Connect communications network that transmits radio messages and CCTV images on the London Underground (LU) network.

The value of the contract has not been revealed.

The fiber optic Connect multi-services network (MSN) was funded and installed by a consortium including Thales under a 20-year Private Finance Initiative (PFI) contract. This ended on November 21 2019, when the assets transferred to TfL.

Thales Ground Transport Systems (GTS) has continued to operate and maintain Connect, and over the past seven years has upgraded its train and staff radio components, replacing 295 radio base stations.

The final part of the upgrade will see Thales install Nokia’s mission-critical IP/MPLS network solution to replace life-expired equipment. The new MSN backbone will provide secure, reliable and scalable connectivity across the 402km LU network and its 272 stations.

Design work for installing the new Nokia equipment is now underway. Work to install trackside equipment and migrate to the upgraded system is due to take place between 2025 and 2027. Installation can only take place during the limited two to three-hour period each night when the LU network is closed to passengers.

“Delivering this comprehensive communications renewal will support the operational demands of our extensive LU and rail network and ensure it operates at peak performance while reducing costs, journey disruption, and ultimately providing the best service possible to our customers,” says TfL’s director of information technology, Ms Rebecca Bissell.

“Renewing the multi-services network, in a way that minimises disruption to services, is essential for maintaining a safe, reliable and efficient Underground,” says Mr Andy Bell, vice-president of Thales Transport in the UK.