Track and signalling

05.01.17

IMechE calls for Digital Railway and ERTMS to be fast-tracked

Digital Railway and other innovations must be fast-tracked to deliver sufficient capacity on British railways, according to a new report from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE).

IMechE argued that British rail is “in heavy catch-up mode” after nearly 100 years of under-investment. While stating that projects such as High Speed 2, Crossrail, Northern Powerhouse Rail and work on London Underground will deliver significant inter-city and sub-urban capacity, the institution added that “we need more”.

It also called for greater investment in the railway to meet rising demand, despite the economic uncertainty generated by Brexit. Philippa Oldham, IMeche’s head of transport and manufacturing, said: “To meet Britain’s transport capacity requirements and facilitate economic growth, we need to enhance existing rail infrastructure, build some new railways, develop advanced traffic management systems, expand terminus capacity and enlarge rolling stock fleets.

“Although there are already exciting projects nearing completion, such as Crossrail, these are largely about catching up with under-investment over the past 100 years. With demand set to double in the next 30 years, we need to step-up efforts to ease crowding, improve punctuality and unlock further capacity.”

In particular, IMechE urged the Rail Supply Group (RSG), Rail Delivery Group (RDG) and RSSB to promote European Railway Traffic Management System (ERTMS) levels 2 and 3 in their January 2017 technical advice to the government to attract more funding.

ERTMS is ultimately intended to replace existing signalling systems in the UK as part of the Digital Railway initiative. Last year’s Transport Select Committee report into Digital Railway largely welcomed the overall plans, but warned that digital railway initiatives should not be so over-ambitious that they later have to be scaled back.

Paul Plummer, chief executive of the RDG, which represents rail companies and Network Rail, said he agreed that cross-industry collaboration was vital to bring forward digital railway “as quickly and efficiently as possible”.

Overall, IMechE said the rail industry needed to use 2017-18 to “work out how to think in a more holistic risk-based way”, instead of relying on an “if it fails, we stop the trains” system of signalling. It also urged the ORR and DfT to become more closely involved in digital railway plans.

In addition to future solutions, the report argued that the RSG and RDG needed to identify the barriers to implementing currently viable technological solutions in the next year.

If necessary, the institution suggested that the DfT and ORR should offer individual operating companies compensation to get the solutions implemented more quickly. Bringing forward innovations more quickly than in the current 5-10 year timeframe would also inspire more confidence in suppliers and encourage them to make more solutions market-ready, the report added.

IMechE also called on bodies including the DfT, Network Rail, the National Infrastructure Commission, Transport for London and Transport for the North to speed up funding for solutions to relieve known bottlenecks.

Furthermore, it recommended accelerating the Closer Running research stream, which would allow trains to communicate with each other and even couple together while in motion. It said that while the concept sounded “far-fetched”, it was already being trialled in autonomous road vehicle research.

The Institution also warned that the government would need to provide greater investment in rail research and development to compensate for the loss of EU funding. This support should be directed through the RSSB and the newly emerging University Centres of Excellence for railways.

(Image c. Network Rail)

Have you got a story to tell? Would you like to become an RTM columnist? If so, click here 

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

rail technology magazine tv

more videos >

latest rail news

Verster to leave ScotRail for East West Rail

20/01/2017Verster to leave ScotRail for East West Rail

Phil Verster will be leaving his current position as ScotRail’s managing director, which he has held since 2015, to become the MD of the Ea... more >
Khan accused of lying over failure to extend TfL fares freeze to travelcards

20/01/2017Khan accused of lying over failure to extend TfL fares freeze to travelcards

London mayor Sadiq Khan has been accused of reneging on his pre-election pledge of a TfL-wide fares freeze after it was revealed that it would ha... more >
‘Transformational change’ in Wales franchise hinges on new trains and electrification

20/01/2017‘Transformational change’ in Wales franchise hinges on new trains and electrification

A committee of MPs has urged the Welsh and UK governments to end underdevelopment of the Welsh rail network, pointing to the new Wales and Border... more >

editor's comment

17/01/2017Rising to the digital demand

The countdown is well and truly on for this year’s UK Rail Industry Awards (UKRIA), and the whole RTM team is looking forward to welcoming you to the fourth edition of this event on 9 February.  Held once again at Battersea Evolution, the prestigious awards ceremony promises to be an extraordinary evening, celebrating some of the major achievements of the industry in the last year. You can see the awards shortlist on pag... read more >

last word

Making rail fares simpler

Making rail fares simpler

David Sidebottom, passenger director at Transport Focus, explains how a number of initiatives over the next 12 months aim to make rail fares simpler. By the end of 2017, we hope passengers w... more > more last word articles >

'the sleepers' daily blog

Commuters close to taking government to court over Southern crisis

06/01/2017Commuters close to taking government to court over Southern crisis

A commuter organisation looking to take the DfT to court over its handling of the Southern rail crisis have said that their legal challenge is almost ready. The Association of British Commuters (ABC) hopes to submit its full application calling for a judicial review by the end of this month, after initially raising funds for the challenge... more >
read more blog posts from 'the sleeper' >

comment

Exhibitors prepare for France’s rail technology showcase

20/01/2017Exhibitors prepare for France’s rail technology showcase

Florence Gaidet from Mack Brooks gives RTM an update on what people can expect from SIFER 2017, France’s showcase for railway technology, p... more >
The data-driven railway

20/01/2017The data-driven railway

RTM speaks to James Dean, Network Rail’s director of route asset management (DRAM), LNW, about the work the infrastructure owner is carryin... more >
Achieving efficiency through standards

17/01/2017Achieving efficiency through standards

Vaibhav Puri, head of standards policy at the RSSB, attempts to bust the myths around standards, and argues that they will be vital to the tradin... more >
A digital railway for a modern Britain

17/01/2017A digital railway for a modern Britain

David Waboso CBE, managing director of Group Digital Railway, discusses using digital technology and how we must work together better as an indus... more >

rail industry focus

View all News

interviews

Investing in the future of Scottish Rail

15/11/2016Investing in the future of Scottish Rail

Phil Verster, managing director of ScotRail Alliance, speaks to RTM’s Luana Salles about the recently-published ‘Investing in the Fut... more >