Network Rail completes ETCS testing on Northern City Line

East Coast Digital ProgrammeThe newly installed digital signalling system on the Northern City Line is ready for passenger service between Finsbury Park and Moorgate, a significant milestone for the first phase of the East Coast Digital Programme (ECDP), Network Rail and Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) have announced.

Mirroring Great Northern’s peak timetable on the Northern City Line by running six digitally signalled trains in 30-minute periods, the testing proved that the state-of-the-art in-cab signalling system – European Train Control System (ETCS) – will support the high-frequency metro service.

A team of Train Test Officers, formed of representatives from across the ECDP’s industry partners including the freight sector, provided support on the overnight tests when stations were closed.

It was the final event in a series of proving runs designed to build confidence in the system before Great Northern drivers begin their training on ETCS in passenger service. This will start once the trackside system has received the required safety approvals from the Office of Road and Rail (ORR). Once introduced, ETCS will provide more reliable and greener services for Great Northern passengers on the Northern City Line.

“We’ve now done all the testing, have submitted the operational safety case to the relevant review bodies and we await final regulatory approval to move to operating passenger trains in ETCS. We’ve got to this point through excellent collaboration, innovation and ‘learning by doing’,” Ed Akers, Network Rail’s Principal Programme Sponsor, ECDP, said.

The trains have been dynamically tested on the route and GTR has been given authorisation from the Office of Road and Rail (ORR) to use them in ETCS passenger service. This will happen once Network Rail has received its authorisation from ORR to switch on the trackside ETCS system. GTR will then steadily train its 250 Great Northern drivers to drive using ETCS in passenger service on the Northern City Line.

The Northern City Line is the first phase of the East Coast Digital Programme, which will see the first introduction of ETCS to an intercity mainline in Great Britain, and will provide the foundation for the future expansion of digital signalling across the network.


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