Friday, 10 April 2020

Digital Railway Successfully Tested

Teams from GWR, Bombardier, DB Cargo, DfT, Heathrow Airport and Porterbrook have successfully completed ETCS testing on Class 387 units for the first time this month.

Co-operation between industry teams has led to the successful testing during the weekend of 21/22 March on the main line between Reading and Heathrow.

Over 10 return trips were successfully carried out proving the functionality of the on-train hardware and software as well as related infrastructure.

These teams have also already achieved a multitude of first in Class outputs including:
ETCS and refurbishment modifications on 387 units
ETCS software installation and dynamic testing
Required infrastructure upgrades
Technical documentation and support
Operational procedures and notices

This successful milestone testing also reflects positive progress with both ETCS fitment and vehicle refurbishment at Bombardier’s Ilford depot, as well as rigorous testing over recent months of the ETCS software at Network Rail’s Melton Mowbray RIDC test track which has allowed training of key operational personnel. ​​​​​​​

The GWR 387s will serve Heathrow Express customers later this year and once introduced the trains will offer a dedicated airport experience complete with at seat USB power, fast wifi, ample luggage space and the option of Business First.

Mary Grant, CEO Porterbrook, said: “Notwithstanding these challenging times, we need to continue focusing on delivering key projects so that the railway is ready to support UK PLC when the current situation stabilises. Introduction of an ETCS fitted fleet on services to Heathrow is just such a project and will enable a service uplift to meet expected passenger numbers when the airport returns to its role as a key European aviation hub.”

Matt Byrne, UK President of Bombardier: “Though we are now on a production pause, project progress and industry cooperation continues wherever it is safe to do so. This landmark refurbishment and upgrade project, involving teams from both our services and rail control solutions businesses, is an industry first: retrofitting ETCS equipment to existing fleets.’

ETCS Definition

Digital Railway is a rail industry-wide programme designed to benefit Great Britain’s economy through more effective train operation, and improved customer experience and industry adaptability, enabled by accelerating the application of digital technologies to the railway. 

The benefits of the Digital Railway are expressed as:  More trains  Better connections  Improved reliability These are to be delivered by the Digital Railway Programme to GB Rail through the application of modern train control technology. 

The vision, purpose and objectives have been summarised in the System of System (SoS) System Definition Document [RD1] as:  Increased capacity  Safer, more secure & environmental railway  Improved train performance (reliability and availability)  Improved whole life cost and sustainable commercial model  Wider socio-economic benefits (e.g. skills, productivity, housing, exports) 

This is an industry-wide programme involving Network Rail (as Infrastructure Manager), Train and Freight Operating Companies (as Railway Undertakings), the Rail Safety & Standards Board (RSSB), Yellow plant, and the supply chain. It will also engage with the Regulator and the Department for Transport (DfT), as necessary, to secure the required improvements to safety and customer provision, funding and approvals. 

The European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) is a European-led initiative designed to provide a compatible train control system across Europe which enables fitted trains to cross from one member state to another without technical restrictions as part of an interoperable railway. 
The European Train Control System (ETCS) is the Control, Command part of the ERTMS. The ETCS is mandated by European Regulation through application of the Control, Command and Signalling Technical Specification for Interoperability (CCS TSI) [RD2], and the European Commission states (in part) that: “The fitting of ERTMS/ETCS is mandatory in the case of new installations or upgrade of the train protection part of a Control Command Signalling (CCS) assembly for rail network identified in the Rail Interoperability Directive transposed in UK law as the Railway Interoperability Regulations (RIR) 2011.” Introduction of the ERTMS will affect on-board systems, trackside equipment, processes for the development of the signalling system, maintenance, and operational procedures.