Northern City Line proved ready for digitally signalled passenger service

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Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) and Network Rail have successfully demonstrated that the recently installed digital signalling system on the Northern City Line, between Finsbury Park and Moorgate, is ready for passenger service. This is a significant milestone for the first phase of the East Coast Digital Programme (ECDP).

Mirroring Great Northern’s peak timetable on the Northern City Line by running six digitally signalled trains in 30-minute periods, the testing proved that the state-of-the-art in-cab signalling system – European Train Control System (ETCS) – will support the high-frequency metro service.

A team of train test officers, formed of representatives from across the ECDP’s industry partners including the freight sector, provided support on the overnight tests when stations were closed.

It was the final event in a series of proving runs designed to build confidence in the system before Great Northern drivers begin their training on ETCS in passenger service. This will start once the trackside system has received the required safety approvals from the Office of Road and Rail (ORR).

Once introduced, ETCS will provide more reliable and greener services for Great Northern passengers on the Northern City Line.

Oliver Turner, GTR’s head of ERTMS, said: “We are all delighted with the results from this week’s system reliability testing on the Northern City Line. Having all the necessary paperwork and approvals in place is one thing, but we won’t start driver training until we have demonstrated we can reliably deliver our timetabled passenger service in ETCS. Thanks to the proving runs this week, we can now say we are fully confident in the system and in a good position to start training our drivers as soon as the trackside system gains formal approval.

“I am so proud of my team here at GTR, and colleagues at Network Rail, who’ve worked very hard behind the scenes to get us to this point, and would like to thank everyone involved.”

Ed Akers, Network Rail’s principal programme sponsor, ECDP, said: “We’ve now done all the testing, have submitted the operational safety case to the relevant review bodies and we await final regulatory approval to move to operating passenger trains in ETCS. We’ve got to this point through excellent collaboration, innovation and ‘learning by doing’. We’ll continue to work that way as we progress to reliable digitally signalled operations on this important first phase of ECDP.”

Image credit: GTR

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