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Digital ETCS signalling system approved for UK passenger trains.

Posted on Sep 12, 2016

Digital ETCS signalling system approved for UK passenger trains. (Picture courtesy of Hitachi)Rail safety chiefs in the UK have given approval for Hitachi Rail Europe’s modern in-cab signalling system to be used on passenger services. The greenlight is hoped will create extra capacity and greater reliability for passengers on the country’s increasingly congested rail network. In a joint project with Network Rail, Hitachi was able to run a train along the Cambrian line, in Wales, controlled by its European Train Control System (ETCS). The recently completed testing has helped Hitachi now become the first train manufacturer in the UK to have its digital signalling system authorised to run passenger trains by the rail regulator.

In what Hitachi are describing as “a major milestone on behalf of the rail industry” they now have approval to develop the signalling system on UK passenger services, which is important progress for the digital railway programme, the industry’s plan to tackle the UK’s capacity crunch by accelerating the digital modernisation of the railway.

The potential long-term benefits of the programme include allowing up to 30 per cent more trains to run across the country, helping to address rising passenger numbers, which have doubled in the past 20 years and are set to double again over the next 25 years.

In a joint project with Network Rail, Hitachi was able to run a train along the Cambrian line, in Wales, controlled by its European Train Control System (ETCS). The testing, which was successfully completed recently, helped Hitachi become the first train manufacturer in the UK to have its digital signalling system authorised to run passenger trains by the rail regulator. The track-side system on the Network Rail managed Cambrian line was installed – also in a UK first – by Ansaldo STS, now owned by Hitachi Rail Europe.

Digital Guide: Urban Rail and Metro - solutions for a changing industry.

Rather than relying on the old Victorian signalling system, which operates like traffic lights, Hitachi’s new ETCS technology tells the driver when to accelerate, brake or about upcoming hazards – making running trains far more efficient. The information, which is fed directly to the train’s cab, is drawn from the track-side system that monitors every train’s movement and position on the railway.

This more sophisticated system, which forms part of Network Rail’s digital railway programme, understands where every train on the network is and gives drivers far richer journey information. In this way, Hitachi’s ETCS system allows more trains to operate safely across the same number of lines and offers a more reliable service for passengers; helping provide more capacity, relieve crowding and respond to the tremendous growth of Britain's railways.

Andy Rogers, Project Director of Hitachi Rail Europe ( @HitachiRailEU ), speaking on the announcement of the approval; "This is big step forward for digital innovation on the UK rail network and, once implemented, can deliver revolutionary benefits for rail passengers. Hitachi is hugely proud to be the first to achieve this milestone, which is a testament to the hard work of our testing and signalling teams.”

“Our thanks go to Network Rail for its role in achieving this milestone and we look forward to working with them to implement ETCS across the network. Whether through manufacturing, new rolling stock or upgrading signalling systems, as a total rail systems business Hitachi is at the forefront of modernising the UK’s rail network” concluded Rogers.

Having been granted authorisation from the UK’s industry regulator – the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) – to use the technology on the railway, Hitachi will install its ETCS in over 160 new trains it is building. The first of these modern trains – the Class 800/801 - enter passenger service next year on the Great Western Mainline, as part of the Intercity Express Programme (IEP).

Ansaldo STS, a Hitachi Group Company are a Lead Sponsor of Smart Metro (incoporating the 7th Annual CBTC World Congress, which returns to Copenhagen on 1-3 November 2016. At SmartMetro you will learn from our 40+ expert speakers about how you can improve your metro, bus and rail services for the benefit of your passengers. Join our senior-level attendees at the definitive technology show of the year! Book before October 7th to make the most of our discounted early price.


For more rail signalling stories like this...

Green light for radical modernisation of Transport for London signalling.

Free industry guide - Urban Rail and Metro: Solutions for a Changing Industry.

Signalling system and delayed upgrades in spotlight after Italian collision kills 27.

Inside story; replacing a 1970s-era signalling and train control system.

Consolidation continues as Hitachi swoops for $2.2 billion Finmeccanica rail business.

€100 million UK Network Rail resignalling contract secured by Alstom. 

Read the Rail and Metro Innovation Guide 2017

Topics: Signalling

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