Trio vies for rail phones

Racal-BRT has shortlisted three companies for £10m plus upgrade for Railtrack

By Melanie Tringham

Racal-BR Telecommunications, the company that manages Railtrack’s telephone network, is in negotiations with three companies for a contract that will be worth in excess of £10m.

Nortel, Ericsson and Siemens GEC Communications Systems have been shortlisted as suppliers to upgrade Railtrack’s network of 250 telephone exchanges, the Extension Trunk Dialling network.

`We’ve had technical discussions with them all; we’re now moving towards commercial discussions,’ said Laurie Fineman, director of networks at Racal-BRT.

The new switches will be more resilient than existing ones, some of which predate the digital era.

The contract will supplement the current £90m upgrade of the network’s transmission equipment, under a programme known as Project Beacon.

Racal has authorised £38m of this to be spent with GPT, the equipment manufacturer, and Pirelli, the fibre optic cable manufacturer, to upgrade the transmission network with Synchronous Digital Hierarchy transmission equipment and fibre optic cable.

Racal and the three bidders are negotiating a price of £10m-£15m, while it is decided who will own and install the switches.

At stake are technical issues for equipment suitable for the electrically noisy railway environment.

Racal hopes to conclude a deal within two to three weeks.