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The new system is designed to improve reliability, according to the transport secretary

The government is to provide £350m to fund the UK’s first digital signalling system on a long-distance rail route.

The technology is to be installed on a 100-mile (161 km) stretch of the East Coast Main Line between London’s Kings Cross and Lincolnshire.

The Department for Transport said digital signalling will enable trains to run closer together and increase frequency, speed and reliability.

No date for when the new signalling will be operational has been given.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “Upgrading this country’s conventional signalling system, and giving drivers technology fit for the 21st century, will boost train performance, cut delays, improve safety and support the supply chain.

“This is just the beginning. In time, we will digitise signalling right across the country to make good on our promise of better reliability and punctuality for passengers.”

Much of the rail signalling in the UK uses Victorian technology, with line-side traffic lights controlling the trains.

The digital system is in operation on the Thameslink network for trains passing through London Bridge. It is also used on some London Underground lines.

The funding is on top of a £1.2bn investment, between 2014 and 2024 to improve journeys on the East Coast Main Line.

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