Northern Rail trials GPS to keep passengers informed

Passengers on the picturesque Esk Valley line will be getting more accurate travel information as Northern Rail trials GPS vehicle tracking capabilities on its trains.

The Esk Valley line (Middlesbrough to Whitby) is typical of many rural routes on Northern’s network. Providing accurate train running information can be difficult because the signalling on these routes often does not have the technology to automatically report a train’s location.

The signalling equipment is very expensive to replace, so Northern is trialling GPS as a lower cost alternative for tracking its trains. If the trial is successful this solution has the potential to be used on many routes across the UK rail network.

The GPS tracking equipment has been supplied by Nomad Digital and fitted on 14 of Northern’s Class 156 trains based at Heaton Depot, which are the only trains that operate on the Esk Valley line. The equipment has been part funded by Network Rail and will use commercial mobile phone networks to regularly report back an accurate position of each train to Northern’s control centre, where staff will work with specialist software to keep information up to date at the stations in the trial.

As part of the project, Network Rail has installed customer information screens at Whitby, Grosmont and Lealholm stations on the Esk Valley route, which have been part funded by ACORP (Association of Community Rail Partnerships).

Rob Warnes, Performance and Planning Director for Northern Rail, said: “This trial has significant potential to make a real difference to the way we communicate train running information to passengers across our network.”



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