Network Rail has awarded a contract Siemens Rail Automation to start installing an in-cab signalling system to the UK freight train fleet.
The European Train Control System (ETSC) is part of the “Digital Railway programme” designed to improve operational performance. The government has so far agreed some £450 million to fund digital railway schemes.
The initial focus will be on the heaviest used types of locomotive and the learning from this first stage will be used to inform the wider potential fleet roll-out from 2022 onwards. The plan is to upgrade all 750 locomotives in the current operational fleet.
Switching from line side signals to on-train will allow more trains to run on existing tracks, reduce crowding, provide better connections, and improve performance and safety for passengers.
Siemens will work with Network Rail and the six Freight Operating Companies to install its Trainguard 200 ETCS on-board solution on freight locomotives which operate across Great Britain.
The ETSC system permits the driver to operate the train, but should the ETCS distance or speed limit be exceeded, or be in danger of being exceeded, then the on-board equipment intervenes to control the train, bringing it to stand if necessary.
Network Rail said: “Siemens Trainguard 200 is a proven, lower power and reliable solution with highly robust fall-back odometry and radar configuration, and features ‘Automatic Warning System’ (AWS) and ‘Train Protection and Warning System’ (TPWS) functionality which is integrated into the ETCS driver display.”
Freight trains are at the forefront for ETCS fitment, as unlike other trains, they are able to travel across the entire country, passing many route boundaries and interacting with various types of train traffic and signals.
Transport secretary Chris Grayling said: “We are making the biggest investment in the railways since Victorian times and this includes £450m for integrating digital technology on our railways. This technology has huge potential to improve journeys for passengers and to boost our freight industry by cutting delays and increasing the number of services. Today is an important step towards our future as a digital railway that is fit for the 21st century.”
Rob Morris, managing director of Siemens Rail Automation in the UK said: “Having proven our equipment and delivery capabilities in a number of similar projects in Europe, our experienced teams are now looking forward to working collaboratively with Network Rail and the freight operating companies to deliver this digital railway project.”