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Alstom completes Class 313 ETCS upgrade

Alstom has finished upgrading its ETCS technology on Network Rail’s Class 313 train, meaning it is now compatible with ERTMS Baseline 3.

Network Rail will now begin using the train for testing and commissioning work in order to deliver ERTMS Baseline 3 to the Paddington-Heathrow stretch of the Great Western Main Line this year.

The upgrading of the Atlas 200 technology follows the successful compatibility testing at Network Rail’s ERTMS National Integration Facility in Hertford and also benefits from train-track integration of a Baseline 3 track, installed for the first time in the world by Alstom last summer.

It also marks a key milestone in developing digital signalling as part of wider Digital Railway plans, with an overall goal to slash journey times, improve safety, drive down maintenance costs and boost capacity.

Michael Flynn, Digital Railway programme director, stressed that the “exciting” enhancement was a “critical step forward” for the UK digital agenda, especially after “having seen what the technology can do for rail travel in other European countries”.

“It has the potential to bring huge benefits to Network Rail, operators and passengers alike,” added Nick Crossfield, managing director for Alstom in the UK and Ireland. “Alstom is one of the global leaders in rail signalling, with nearly three-quarters of on-board ERTMS equipment in service being supplied by Alstom.

“Atlas is interoperable across European rail corridors and can be applied to all types of trains. It has a great track record abroad and we are looking forward to bringing its benefits to the UK.”

The Class 313 refurb is Alstom’s third trainborne contract to install its ERTMS technology in the UK, whilst it has also recently bagged a trackside contract to provide ETCS for Crossrail, which will enable the Elizabeth Line between Stockley Junction and Heathrow Terminals 4 and 5.

The company will also be working alongside TSO and Costain to build a maintenance facility at Plumstead – an announcement which marked the last contract handed out to build the Crossrail network.

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J, Leicester   14/02/2017 at 12:45

Digital signalling will be great for the railways - as long as the system is secure and has suitable contingency measures in place. I can picture the chaos already if the system either malfunctions or is hacked. Given the chaos surrounding DSB's attempted implementation of ERTMS network-wide on what is a far less complex network, I'm still sceptical that it will be a viable technology to implement in anything but isolated spots and self-contained areas for a number of decades yet.

Jerry Alderson   15/02/2017 at 02:00

J of Leicester wrote "I can picture the chaos already if the system either malfunctions or is hacked." In September 2016 I attended a presentation to Railfuture in Norwich by a Network Rail Digital Railway manager at hwich the subject of hacking was raised. ETCS is believed to be very secure and in the very unlikely event that it was hacked then the hacker would only be able to hack a short section of line as the next section would have completely different codes and they would have to hack that separately. I don't know how this protection would be achieved but I assume it is a bit like a dongle used to access a network whereby the dongle is constantly generating a new number and every time a connection is made a new key is needed.

Andrew Gwilt   20/02/2017 at 00:53

Network Rail’s Class 313 "yellow" train could also be used on the West Coast Main Line, East Coast Main Line, Midland Mainline (once electrified to Sheffield and Leeds), Great Western Main Line, Great Eastern Main Line and other lines for track checkups, maintenance and track defects along with other Network Rail's rail vehicles that are used on engineering works to keep our railways safer and to minimise delays on our railways.

David   22/02/2017 at 21:46

Andrew, a 75mph suburban unit won't be suitable for those lines. In any case it's not a track maintenance unit as I am sure I have said before.

Andrew Gwilt   23/02/2017 at 21:49

Fair Point David.

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