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Northern line signalling upgrade passes major milestone

The Northern line signalling upgrade has now gone live on its first section, London Underground has announced.

The work between West Finchley and High Barnet is part of a larger upgrade that will improve capacity and journey times.

The earlier fixed block signalling has been replaced by the Thales SelTrac S40 Communications Based Train Control (CBTC) system – the same as that used on the Jubilee line. Valuable lessons have been learnt since that project, which suffered seemingly endless delays and line closures until its completion in summer 2011.

LU adopted a new approach to work, with fewer closures, 60% fewer disrupted journeys and more testing done off site. Additionally, LU intensified the amount of work done during night-time engineering hours.

Preparatory work for the signalling upgrade included putting in new trackside wiring, converting trains to make them compatible with the new system and training all operators to use the system.

David Waboso, LU's Capital Programmes director, said: “We are making good progress with the upgrade of the Northern line – London's busiest line. The use of the new signalling system on this first section of the line provides a good foundation for the rest of the roll out.

“Once the Northern line upgrade is completed customers will have faster, more frequent and more reliable services.

“The upgrade will mean we can carry an extra 11,000 passengers per hour which is equivalent to a fifth more passengers. Journey times will also be reduced by 18%.

“We would like to thank customers who use the High Barnet branch early on Sundays for their patience while these works have taken place.”

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William Chase   08/03/2013 at 17:44

Noticeable improvement in speed (I've used the line from High Barnet for 40 years) but the system needs fine tuning: constant small adjustments to speed are very evident and make for a jerky and unsettling ride.

William Chase   20/03/2013 at 10:35

Follow on comment to mine of 08/03: between Totteridge & Whetstone and High Barnet there are normally between 25 and 30 jerky micro-bursts of acceleration(about 3 seconds each). Quite apart from questins of comfort, I really wonder what effect this will have on the rolling stock itself. Is this an effect of the gradient?

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