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In-Cab signalling agreement

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Network Rail has reached framework agreements with four suppliers for the development and design of a new, European-standard signalling system for Britain’s railways.

ETCS does not require line-side signals and is cheaper to install than conventional re-signalling.

Network Rail and its industry partners have chosen ETCS as one of its recommended methods of re-signalling and have developed a plan for its deployment across the network.

Starting in April, the agreements signed with four contractors cover a one-year development phase which will confirm the suppliers’ design of a European Train Control System (ETCS) Level 2 signalling system.

These will then be demonstrated on Network Rail’s new testing facility on the Hertford loop with contracts for the delivery of the programme to be awarded in 2014.

ETCS is part of the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) – a tried and tested signalling system which will replace traditional line-side railway signals with a computer display inside every train cab, reducing the costs of maintaining the railway, improving performance and enhancing safety.

The first drive to install ERTMS will take place on the Great Western main line starting in 2016 as part of the large-scale resignalling of the line, coinciding with the arrival of new trains and electrification.

The East Coast main line (commencing 2018) and Midland main line (commencing 2020) are scheduled to follow soon after.

The successful companies are Signalling Solutions Ltd, Invensys Rail, Infrasig and Ansaldo STS.

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  1. Does anyone know what cost will be transferred to the rolling stock owners/operators and how it compares with an equivalent “shore” based equipment? NR will tend to state the costs saved for them alone and leave out the increased cost to others.

    • Unfortunately this is now the standard PR practise in all fields of business.

      “New supermarket to create 500 jobs!” (what about other lost jobs)
      “Digital cinema to save distributors millions a year!” (what about cinema investment to cope)
      “Electric vehicles save tonnes of CO2!” (what about power stations)
      “Domestic high speed to Ashford is fast!” (Average 88mph start to stop… enough said)

      ….and so on.

      • ‘”Domestic high speed to Ashford is fast!” (Average 88mph start to stop… enough said)’…. okay, you show me a regional rail service anywhere in the world which has a faster average speed.

        Your regional services far outstrip many of our ‘inter-city’ services outside of the south-east. Be grateful for what you have…. 88mph average speed is VERY impressive for what is almost a commuter railway.

        • Peterborough is further out than Ashford, at about 84 miles, but is still very much an outer commuter town.
          Trains average about 100mph, it is a classic lines route and there is no “high speed” premium fare, although of course this may be hidden in the basic fare, but comparison indicates not:
          Kings Cross – Peterborough £29.60 off peak single
          St Pancras – Ashford £30.40 off peak single

          • Further out means a longer stint at high-speed. Peterborough is on an inter-city high speed route meaning it’s often non-stop from London which again isn’t comparable to the regional/commuter style railway operated domestically on HS1. The prices are £0.80 different…. that says nothing in the real world.

    • I think we have to be careful how we examine the cost structure here.

      ERTMS needs a signalling installation and a radio installation. The radio is GSM/R – now already installed on large parts of the network. The signalling requires balises, radio links and control centres – which are already being commissioned. It doesn’t need coloured lights and assorted lineside paraphernalia.

      Trains will need to be fitted with on-board signalling equipment, but as trains are replaced they will come fitted with the appropriate system. Retro-fitting older trains can be a problem, due mainly to space restrictions.

      There will be a cost of installing ERTMS cabinets in old trains, but as the whole reason for doing it is to get shorter headways and quicker journey times then that’s the payback.

      Lower cost of signalling is not, and never has been, the main driving force behind ERTMS.


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