East Coast Digital Programme hits major milestone as section commissioned

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In a big step forward for the East Coast Digital Programme (ECDP), new technology has now been successfully commissioned between Welwyn Garden City and Hitchin, bringing digital signalling on the East Coast Main Line a step closer.

Engineers have worked around the clock between Saturday 17 and Tuesday 20 February to carry out the work.

Later this year, the first overnight test trains will be operated, in preparation for the first digitally signalled trains on the main line to run from 2025.

ECDP will change how train services on the East Coast Main Line are operated, with traditional lineside signalling being replaced by digital signalling displayed inside the train drivers’ cabs. This will lead to more reliable journeys for passengers and a greener railway.

Ed Akers, principal programme sponsor, ECDP, said: “This is a major milestone towards digital signalling on the main line and I’m incredibly proud of everyone involved in reaching this point. Digital signalling is the future of the railway, and ECDP will deliver a more reliable and greener railway for passengers in the long term.

“We want to thank passengers for their patience and understanding over recent days while work was carried out.”

A spokesperson on behalf of passenger train operators said: “Our teams have been working hard over the last four days to keep passengers on the move and to get them to their destination as quickly as possible.

“We know that changes to services are never ideal and we want to thank our passengers for their patience while this vital work was carried out.”

In the first stage of the ECDP, digitally signalled Great Northern passenger trains have been operating since November on the Northern City Line between Finsbury Park and Moorgate. Traditional signals are being kept at the side of the track until all drivers are trained and the old system can be switched off, which is expected in 2025.

Currently, a quarter of all the trains operating between these stations are using the ETCS system, with this number increasing as more drivers are trained on the system. It is expected that the Northern City Line will be a ‘no signals’ railway from early 2025.

Image credit: Network Rail

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