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New longer train numbers to come into effect this year

Beginning this month, new trains will be required to display a new standard European Vehicle Number (EVN), meaning train numbers will be extended.

The change in policy is intended to provide more information, as trains increasingly begin to operate internationally.

It means operators, maintenance companies and suppliers will be able to share details of routes for carriages, wagons and locomotives.

The current system for numbering British trains is based on the approach initially adopted by British Rail in the late 1960s.This was known as the Total Operations Processing System (TOPS) and was originally developed by the Southern Pacific Railroad in the US.

For many vehicles, the EVN will actually incorporate the traditional British TOPS-based number, which can be underlined or emboldened in the marking.

While the majority of trains in the UK are unlikely to run in mainland Europe, they will still be given an EVN for identification in continental registers.

However, the only stock that will be expected to display the number in this country are new trains brought into service from January this year.

Currently, the railway in Britain works on an IT system called R2 which is managed by the RSSB and processes everything from registration and marking to numbering.

The RSSB explained how the system would be affected by the changes: “This means the change should be relatively hassle-free for Network Rail and train operating companies, as R2 does all the hard work in generating and allocating vehicle numbers, managing registration and providing the link between the EVN and the National Vehicle Register.”

For those interested in the details of these changes, the RSSB has explained the new details here.

Top image: Chris Ison PA Wire

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Lutz   24/01/2018 at 19:18

More expense imposed by EU that is largely unnecessary within the UK context.

Andrew Gwilt   25/01/2018 at 04:37

At least longer trains that are coming From Brussels, Paris, Netherlands, South of France, Germany and other European countries and cities will have the new European Vehicle Number. And that comes before the UK Prime Minister Teresa May will sign the Article 50 from March next year. #Brexit.

Jim   25/01/2018 at 08:01

Andrew - article 50 has already been invoked. Just because we are leaving the EU doesn’t mean we don’t need interoperability and the ability to identify common rolling stock operating throughout Europe. The Channel Tunnel is defined under a treaty between the UK and France so sits outside the EU. I agree that this might not be completely applicable to all rolling stock in the UK - 156s running between Derby and Matlock are never going to visit Paris! But it’s still a worthwhile exercise to have a recognised commonality when trains (Eurostar, potentially DB etc) run between the UK and the rest of Europe.

Mmlred   25/01/2018 at 10:20

The only point at which I can see this being necessary for domestic rolling stock is when all 999 classes of locomotive have been filled - which, given numbers can be reused once a class is retired, seems unlikely. Likewise, the scheme has some merit for trains running to and from the continent. Otherwise, it seems an entirely unnecessary task for domestic rail operators to have to homogenise their fleet running numbers with 27 other nations, with no tangible benefit to their services other than knowing their trains are on a massive database somewhere in a Brussels file cabinet. As with so much else the EU has touched in the rail industry, it makes way more sense on the continent, where trains run cross-border with far more regularity, than in an island nation like our own where that is the exception to the rule. I could also rant about the counter-intuitive IIIB emissions directive and the subsequent dearth of new diesel freight loco orders in lieu of reactivating far more polluting locomotives under "grandfather rules", but that's for another day. I see the rail industry as a microcosm of the reasons the UK is leaving the EU - bureaucratic, desperate to shoehorn "one-size fits all" policies into wildly differing national operations and, at the end of it all, perceived as lacking any tangible benefits for the everyday passenger for all the "projects", whose daily commute doesn't seem to be improving for them. The man on the street sees rising fares, standing room only, tatty old trains and delays and cancellations on a seemingly daily basis - whether that's fair or not, the public perception of the railways is, and will remain, poor for the foreseeable. It doesn't work for them and, if they were presented a better alternative, they'd take it. Which, for better or worse, is what people saw in Brexit back in 2016. That said, the class 1000 does have a nice ring to it.

Jimbo   25/01/2018 at 17:54

Just to be clear, the EVN is 12 digits long with several spaces. It consists of a 2-digit vehicle type (eg. 92 for Diesel loco), 2-digit country code (70 for UK), 4-digit class, 3-digit vehicle number and 1-digit checksum. So for example, loco 68023 could become "92 70 0068 023-5". I should be noted that there have been several different versions of this standard and many parts of Europe don't use it yet. In my view, this is over-complicated and fairly typical of bureaucrats who have nothing better to do - any vehicle number that requires a checksum digit is too long. If these are only applied to new stock as they are built, I guess it is not really a problem, but why do we need a more complicated solution. If it gets applied to old stock, then it is a complete waste of money.

Andrew JG   26/01/2018 at 01:19

I find that Class 374’s are a lot quicker than the Class 373’s and are much quieter compare to the Class 373’s. Plus TGV’s were also used on London-Hamburg, London-Berlin and London-Amsterdam direct services. Unless it hasn’t been planned to operate a new service to Netherlands and Germany just yet. But you can go to Cologne on a Eurostar from London St. Pancras Intl. Aswell from Ebbsfleet Intl and Ashford Intl stations.

Jim   26/01/2018 at 10:18

@Andrew JG - firstly, what has you personal, and largely incorrect, view on Eurostar's got to do with EVN's? Class 374's have a higher top speed and higher installed power (so will accelerate quicker), so yes they are quicker. As for the rest of your post, you are almost entirely wrong. TGV's have never been used on any London services - class 373's are built by Alstom and so used similar technology but they are not TGV's. Class 374's are built by Siemens, so have nothing in common with TGV's. The only services from London that go outside of France are to Brussels - there are no services to Netherlands or Germany. I travelled from London to Cologne a few months ago and you have to change at Brussels onto a Thalys to get to Cologne. Further expansion of the Eurostar network has been stymied by the UK not being in the Schengen area so requiring customs checks at stations.

Darren   26/01/2018 at 13:27

Surely this isn't new? Hasn't rolling stock that may potentially operate through the channel tunnel (container flats, for example), and ferry vans, carried their EVN for years? Though I agree, it's probably not required on something that will never operate outside the UK. Is it new items of rolling stock, or new types? For example, will we see IEP's delivered last year carrying just their TOPS numbers, whilst those delivered this year display their full EVN?

Paul Coenraats   26/01/2018 at 19:23

A comment below suggested that a Class 1000 was possible back in 1947/1948 there was two diesel locomotives 10000 & 10001 on the LMS and then the S.R. had 10301/2/3. whilst the later were steam operated the numbering scheme was possibly ahead of it's time.

Andrew JG   28/01/2018 at 05:39

I might be thinking of ICE trains that went to London St Pancras International as they were testing them for the new London-Hamburg, Berlin and Düsseldorf service.

Andrew JG   28/01/2018 at 05:42

I hope that Eurostar can operate a new London-Amsterdam & Rotterdam service without having to change stations either at Paris or Lille. And possibly London-Luxembourg.

Jon   29/01/2018 at 09:14

What does this have to do with TOPS or EVN?

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