Network Rail has awarded a multi-million pound contract to O2 Unify for the upgrade of its entire Cisco switch and router estate across 450 sites.

Under the three-year contract, O2 Unify will initially provide support and maintenance services for the existing Cisco infrastructure, and then work on refreshing it as the equipment reaches end-of-life.

It will also provide the Cisco LAN and WAN infrastructure for Network Rail's new National Centre, The Quadrant, in Milton Keynes, which will house 3,500 staff from this summer.

The contract is expected to reduce Network Rail's total cost of ownership of the network infrastructure estate, and contribute to the company's wider strategy of reducing costs by 21 percent over a five-year period.

Network Rail declined to disclose the name of the third-party supplier who is currently managing the Cisco infrastructure.

Train companies and station operators have recently been advised to invest in their telecommunications equipment to ensure that they provide accurate and timely information about delays to passengers.

Network Rail dropped Vodafone in favour of O2 for its telecommunications services in 2008, with the telecoms operator providing voice, BlackBerry support and other mobile data services.