Network Rail commenced the testing phase of the new digital signalling on the Northern City Line by running the first Great Northern train between Finsbury Park and Moorgate.
The first test train ran on 29 May and an ongoing intensive period of testing will ensure that the train fleet, already fitted with the necessary technology, works well with the new digital signalling infrastructure that will communicate directly with the trains cab.
The testing is carried out with a Great Northern Class 717 train and marks an important milestone in the Government funded East Coast Digital Programme, which will ultimately see traditional signals removed from the tracks along this route. Digital signalling reduces delays and enables a more reliable service for passengers.
“The running of the first Northern City Line train in digital signalling as part of the test campaign is a big moment for the East Coast Digital Programme, this is the first step to migration following the successful upgrade of the system earlier in May which will change the way the railway works to deliver a more reliable service,” Toufic Machnouk, Network Rail’s Director, Industry Partnership for Digital Railway, said.
Testing is taking place overnight and weekends to minimise disruption to passengers as much as possible. The process continues throughout 2022 to ensure complete assurance of its safety and reliability, with driver training and migration to digital signalling operations due to commence in early 2023. The Northern City Line is expected to operate solely using digital signalling in 2024.
The new digital signalling technology was installed by Siemens Mobility closely working with Govia Thameslink Railway and Network Rail. “This project is a prime example of how sustainable investment in digital technology can unlock benefits and support growth in the UK economy,” Mark Ferrer, Operations Director, Technology, Rail Infrastructure at Siemens Mobility UKI, said.