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A former Silverlink 313 is being converted into a laboratory train to test European Train Control System technology prior to its roll-out on the mainline network.

Painted in Network Rail yellow, 313121 will be refurbished and equipped with the latest ETCS equipment, including a technician’s workstation, before taking to the metals again. Unit 313121 is leased from Beacon Rail and is being refurbished by Alstom at its Wembley depot.

The train forms part of the European Rail Traffic Management System implementation project. Starting this summer the Hertford National Integration Facility (HNIF) will see European Train Control System (ETCS) kit from four suppliers put through its paces on a five-mile section of the Hertford loop.

Says Rob McIntosh, Network Rail’s project director for ETCS, ‘Our facility at Hertford, and the train that will run on it, are further steps towards improving the railway across the country. Vital lessons have already been learned during our trials on the Cambrian Lines and now we are refining our knowledge in preparation for the future installation cab signalling on Great Western and East Coast main lines.’

To allow for the operation of HNIF, bi-directional signalling has been installed on the northern section of the Hertford Loop, to allow the down line between Molewood Tunnel and Langley South junction to become a test facility.

During peak hours the section will be part of the normal railway, but when ETCS testing is required the block will be ‘switched out’ – switching control from King’s Cross signal box to a laboratory facility being built at Hitchin. ERTMS is a signalling and train control system ensuring trains operate within safe limits and speeds at all times, and includes in-cab signalling.


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