Parliamentary visit to European Train Control System test centre

Published on : Wednesday, February 3, 2016

1Senior members of the All Party Parliamentary Rail Group  visited the ETCS National Integration Facility to learn about Network Rail’s Digital Railway Programme and test Hitachi’s ETCS driving simulator.


Lord Berkeley and Martin Vickers MP, Secretary and Chair of the APPG, were given an overview of the signalling modernisation programme last Tuesday (27 January), which forms a key part of Network Rail’s blueprint for the railway of the future. Senior members of the Digital Railway Programme outlined the principle technologies involved and the working timetable for deployment, and were joined by representatives from development partners Siemens, Hitachi and Signalling Solutions Ltd.After a technical briefing both parliamentarians accepted an invitation to use Hitachi’s ETCS driving simulator to experience first-hand how trains will be operated in future.


ETCS is the signalling component of the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) and will underpin the digital modernisation of signalling on the network. Driving simulators are used to train drivers on ETCS which provides a target speed, including movement authority, on a screen in the cab. The train ‘knows’ where it is through a combination of trackside equipment and on-board sensors, while instructions from the control centre are conveyed through the GSM-R  signal.


The ETCS National Integration Facility at Hitchin utilises a five-mile stretch of railway on the Hertford Loop between Molewood Tunnel and Langley South junction, controlled from a new structure in the former Hitchin goods yard. The test facility is being used by Network Rail to examine suppliers’ trackside ETCS equipment, using a converted Class 313 laboratory train.By signalling each train according to its braking and accelerating capabilities, ETCS will release much needed capacity from the current network, and also deliver considerable cost savings over traditional lineside maintenance and renewal programmes. ETCS is an important part of Network Rail’s digital modernisation programme, which will combine hundreds of signalling locations into 12 Rail Operating Centres (ROCs), using traffic management software to control the flow of trains.


The visit was hosted by Jerry England, group Digital Railway director at Network Rail, who said: “Modernising the network is vital if we are to meet the rising demand that will add another one billion rail journeys a year by 2032. We were delighted that two senior parliamentarians with a deep interest in the railway network found time to learn about the benefits of digital technology for both passengers and industry.”


The Digital Railway programme is a cross industry initiative that will modernise the rail network with digital technology to improve capacity, connectivity, and reliability. Our current railway relies on a signalling system that is outdated and costly to maintain. Great Britain needs an efficient railway that supports economic growth in every region by connecting more people and goods to more places and with reduced end-to-end journey times – that is the Digital Railway.


Source:- Network Rail

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