HomeTechnologyDigital RailwayDigital signalling for East Coast main line tested on Thameslink

Digital signalling for East Coast main line tested on Thameslink


A test of the digital in-cab signalling system ECTS level 2 (European Train Control System) has been carried out successfully using a Govia Thameslink Great Northern Moorgate Class 717 train.

The test provided real-world proof of the track-to-train specification needed to enable a confident migration to ETCS on the Northern City line, the first tranche of the East Coast Digital Programme.

The results showed Unit 717002 ran faultlessly using an upgraded baseline of the current Class 700 Thameslink ETCS system (3.4.0 onboard over 2.3.0d trackside) through the Thameslink ‘core’, between St Pancras and Blackfriars in central London.

Waiting at Blackfriars, the display on the driver’s desk is plain to see.

Although GTR’s Class 717 Moorgate trains are already fitted with ETCS, this is the first time it had been tested on Network Rail infrastructure across this specification. The Thameslink ‘core’ already has ETCS signalling infrastructure on which it can be tested.

It is hoped ETCS will smooth and maximise the flow of trains by continually communicating with the train, creating a more dynamic, reliable, safer and flexible operation. A mixed-use railway, the East Coast main line has trains of different sizes and speeds, passenger and freight, all using the same tracks. The new radio-based signalling recognises the different trains and will allow train and track to communicate continuously in real-time.

Oliver Turner, GTR.

Oliver Turner, who heads up GTR’s input to the industry-wide East Coast Digital Programme, said: “On the Northern City line, the new signalling system being installed on our trains and tracks will save passengers thousands of hours of delay caused by the current ageing system.

“A key milestone was to run one of our Moorgate trains in ETCS mode using the software that will be ultimately used across the East Coast main line. I’m pleased to report it did that with flying colours.”

Toufic Machnouk, Network Rail.

Toufic Machnouk, director industry partnership digital, Network Rail said: “This is the first time a train of this specification has been tested dynamically, in the real world, against the infrastructure specification.

“It represents a small but significant step for the East Coast Digital Programme and is a crucial point of confidence for a smooth migration to ETCS operations, delivering progressive benefits to passengers.”


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