Porterbrook completes Class 43 ETCS retrofit project

Class 43 Power carsPorterbrook and Thales have completed the project to retrofit three Class 43 Power cars with ETCS onboard equipment being compliant to the latest UNISIG baseline (B3R2).

The contract to carry out the First in Class (FiC) design and fitment was awarded to Thales in 2018.

“Successful testing of Thales ETCS equipment is a major milestone, and we are delighted that the New Measurement Train will continue to operate on the East Coast once conventional signals are removed as we move to ETCS level 2,” Ben Ackroyd, Chief Operating Officer at Porterbrook, said.

The Class 43 Power cars that have been fitted and tested are part of Network Rail’s New Measurement Train, which carries out essential infrastructure monitoring work across the whole network. Fitment of ETCS is a priority to enable continued data recording on the East Coast and other areas as the technology is rolled out.

The project is the first time that Thales has fitted the ETCS on-board system in the UK. Following successful level 2 testing at Network Rail’s Melton Rail Innovation and Development Centre (RIDC) over the last two weeks, preparation is underway for the units to undergo full testing and reach approval to place into service by the end of the year.

“This milestone proves Thales’s capability to modify existing cabs with the new digital in-cab system so they can be ETCS-compatible. The multiple stakeholders involved worked collaboratively to get us to the point where we can trial the system on an operational track,” Mark Newill, Head of On-board Portfolio at Thales said.

The project is part of the UK Digital Railway Programme to transform the rail network by deploying modern signalling and train control technology to increase capacity, reduce delays, enhance safety and drive down costs.  The principle technologies are the ETCS, the connected driver advisory systems (CDAS) and automatic train operation (ATO), traffic management to maximise the performance across the network and telecoms and data, through FTN and GSM-R.


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