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Signalling boost for the 'rocket to the rooftop of the world' railway.

Posted on Jul 27, 2016

 Chinese train about 20 km north of Yangbaijan (Wikicommons: Jan Reurink)One of the most remarkable railways in the world, the line between Qinghai in China and Lhasa in Tibet, has confirmed a major upgrade for its signalling system. The 1,956 km (1,215 mi) rail link which includes the Tanggula Pass, which, at 5,072 m (16,640 feet) above sea level, is the world's highest point on a railway, has ordered an Incremental Train Control System (ITCS). The network reaches such a height that each train is equipped with extra oxygen (available under your seat) and a doctor is always on-board. The trains are specially built for high elevation environments with an operational speed of 120 km/h (75 mph) dipping to 100 km/h (62 mph) over the 550 km (340 mi) sections of track that are laid on permafrost. Alstom and its Chinese joint venture CASCO Signalling Co. Ltd have been given the task of upgrading the signalling system deployed on the network. 

It’s not just the highest rail line in the world, it also has a number of other records, the Tanggula railway station at 5,068 m (16,627 feet) is the world's highest railway station whilst the 1,338 m (4,390 ft) Fenghuoshan tunnel is the highest rail tunnel in the world at 4,905 m (16,093 ft) above sea level.

Alstom ( @Alstom ) and its Chinese joint venture CASCO Signalling Co. Ltd. as a Consortium has been awarded the contract by Qinghai-Tibet Railway Company to supply and improve the Incremental Train Control System (ITCS) signalling solution on the section Gelmod to Lhasa of Qinghai-Tibet regional line by the end of August 2018. The contract which is worth over €15 million is the first ITCS contract for Alstom since the integration of GE signalling since November 2015.

Tanggula railway station (Wikicommons: Yaohua2000)

ITCS is an advanced radio-based train control solution for freight and passenger rail systems. Acting as a vital overlay to an existing signalling system or creating at stand-alone vital virtual signalling system, ITCS wirelessly communicates train movement authority as though the territory were operating under centralised traffic control. ITCS meets the requirements of a Positive Train Control (PTC) System.

The Golmud to Lhasa section is 1,145 km long and includes 45 stations on which passenger regional and freight trains circulate. In order to increase the capacity of the line, Qinghai-Tibet Railway Company has obtained approval to add 13 new stations by the end of 2016, and revamp and/or relocate 18 existing stations by the end of 2017. With the line being modified, there was a need to improve the existing signalling system supplied by former GE Signalling for which the revenue service started in 2006 and implement it on all the stations. This project will allow for more people to take the trains and optimize the transport capacity and availability of the line while enhancing the local economy. 


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CASCO Signal Ltd. is Alstom’s first joint venture in Chinese rail market established together with China Railway Signal & Communication Corporation in 1986.  It has become the major supplier of signalling systems and services for metros in China in the recent decades, supplying CBTC signalling solutions for more than 40 metro lines in 18 cities. At the same time, it has provided control centres for more than 70 passenger-dedicated lines, including Beijing-Shanghai Express Railway and Guangzhou - Zhuhai Intercity Railway.

“This contract is a breakthrough for Alstom after the successful integration of GE signalling. With an enhanced signalling solution portfolio addressing urban, regional and mainline, and through our strategic local partner CASCO, we are China preferred partner to support its railway projects throughout the country” said Ling Fang, managing director of China and East Asia for Alstom. 


Like this Chinese signalling development, then you may also be interested in...

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


SmartMetro 2016

Topics: Signalling

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Luke Upton
Luke Upton
Luke has edited this site since its launch and previously worked for b2b media companies across industries including energy, advertising and sport. His role includes writing, editing and commissioning...read more