FIBRE OPTIC SIGNALS THE FUTURE FOR BORDERS RAILWAY

Whilst the main focus on the new Borders Railway project has been on the civil engineering and rail installation phases, critical work to deliver signalling systems along the route has been going relatively unnoticed.

The signalling and telecoms teams have been working to install vital infrastructure which will allow trains to operate on the line safely.

Signalling systems have developed considerably since the days of the former Waverley route, with modern systems now being installed along the route.  Significantly, the Borders Railway line will use fibre optic cabling to connect their signals rather than traditional copper cables. 

Fibre optic cables, which are also being used for the communications masts along the route, transmit information to the signals faster than copper cables and can often be more reliable and less susceptible to adverse weather.  They also have no scrap value which should deter any would-be thieves from targeting the cables and disrupting the network.

Hugh Wark, project director for Network Rail, said: “Signals are a vital part of the rail network; trains cannot run safely without them. By using fibre optic cables rather than copper cables, we aim to improve the efficiency of signalling along the Borders route and reduce the risk of delays caused by copper theft.  You can never fully eliminate the risk of criminal activity but metal thieves will not profit from their disruptive and illegal actions on the Borders route.”

Inspector Angela McGregor for British Transport Police (BTP), commented: “Although BTP has seen a reduction in the number of cable thefts, it remains a significant problem for the rail industry.  In 2013/14, cable theft cost the rail industry over £2.5m due to damage, delays and disruption. 

“The fibre optic cables which are being used along the Borders Railway have no scrap value so this reduces the likelihood of thieves wanting to steal the cables.”