As part of the East Coast Digital Programme, Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) has successfully run one of its Great Northern Moorgate Class 717 trains using the digital in-cab signalling system ETCS level 2.
The test has provided important real-world proof of the track-to-train specification necessary to ensure a smooth transition to ETCS on the Northern City Line.
Unit 717002 ran efficiently using an improved baseline of the current Class 700 Thameslink ETCS system, (3.4.0 onboard over 2.3.0d trackside), via the Thameslink ‘core’, located between St Pancras and Blackfriars in central London.
GTR’s Class 717 Moorgate trains are already fitted with ETCS but the trials mark 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.
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.”
The Director added, “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.”
By continuously communicating with the train, ETCS will mean smoother journeys, optimising the stream of trains, to create a more dynamic, reliable, safer and flexible railway.
The East Coast Main Line acts as a mixed-use railway, meaning trains of varying sizes and speeds, both passenger and freight, are all using the same track.
The radio-based signalling equipment can recognise the different trains, allowing the train and track to ‘talk’ to each other in real-time, thus providing a better performing railway.
Oliver Turner, Head of 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”
He added, “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 Mainline. I’m pleased to report it did that with flying colours.”