Network Rail has successfully delivered a training programme to prepare Thameslink signallers for the introduction of ETCS and ATO.
The course was developed by the Thameslink Programme, working with the Network Rail training team in conjunction with Siemens Rail Automation, and delivered at the Three Bridges ROC in Crawley to prepare signallers for the rollout of the new signalling systems from 2018.
Once in operation, ETCS (European Train Control System) and ATO (Automatic Train Operation) will allow 24 trains an hour to operate through the Thameslink core.
Work initially began in October 2016 and approval was given by Network Rail’s professional head of operations to begin the training programme in August this year.
Bill Graham, an operations specialist involved with the Cambrian ERTMS and ETCS National Integration Facility (ENIF), provided support to Thameslink and Network Rail Training in developing the subject matter.
Working on a specially designed ETCS/ATO simulator, the course was delivered in five modules. The different modules covered the operation of ETCS in normal, abnormal, degraded and emergency conditions.
Jamie Geraghty, shift signaller manager (SSM) and trainer at Three Bridges ROC, said: “The signaller and SSM plays a vital role in the day-to-day running of the railway under ETCS, which provides us with great new tools to enable us to do our job.
“ETCS and conventional signalling have some similarities, which made converting to ETCS easier, as what we already know and do today have resemblances to terms and procedures that are used in ETCS.
“The signalling team are very excited to be involved with the development and introduction of ETCS and ATO. I am also incredibly proud to be here at the start of this fantastic new technology.”
Iona Wakely, head of the Thameslink operational readiness programme, said: “Introducing ETCS to the Thameslink Core is not just a technology change, but it also drives changes to the way the railway is operated and maintained to deliver the capacity we need for the new timetables.
“Completion of this course marks a major milestone for the programme and for South East route – as our signalling staff are now operationally ready to signal trains in ETCS Level 2 from early 2018.”