Testing starts for very latest in-cab signalling technology on Great Northern’s Class 717 fleet

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Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) has started dynamically testing the latest specification of European Train Control System (ETCS) software on its Great Northern Class 717 fleet.

Transitioning into ETCS BL3 R2, also referred to as 3.6.0, just before Finsbury Park, on the Northern City Line in London, Unit 717001 successfully continued its journey to Moorgate. It is the first train to use the latest version of the digital signalling system as part of the government-funded East Coast Digital Programme.

Great Northern’s 25 Class 717 trains were built fitted with ETCS B3MR1 (also referred to as version 3.4.0) and last week (27 November) the first passenger services began running in ETCS Level 2 using this iteration of the software, on the Northern City Line (see press release).

Following approval from the Office of Road and Rail (ORR), Great Northern is now upgrading its Class 717 fleet to the latest version of the software to ensure its trains are compatible with the latest digital infrastructure that is being installed on the East Coast Main Line, as part of the next phase of the East Coast Digital Programme.

The entire fleet will be upgraded early next year, so that the trains are ready to operate in ETCS on the East Coast Main Line from 2025.

Connor Philpott, ERTMS Fleet Project Engineer was involved in the test run

Aaron Meakin, ERTMS Fleet Project Manager at Govia Thameslink Railway, said: “After last week’s success in running the very first passenger trains in Level 2 ETCS, we’ve now passed a second significant milestone for our Class 717 fleet and their journey towards a digitally signalled railway.

“We are pleased with how the train performed during dynamic testing and are proud to be in a position where we can share our knowledge and experience of operating our trains in the very latest version of ETCS with the wider industry.”

Sarah Hewlett, Network Rail Programme Manager, ECDP, said: “Getting all aspects of track and train ready for digital signalling has many strands, and testing the latest version on a key train fleet provides another piece in the jigsaw. We are pleased to have worked closely with GTR to get to this stage, and would like to thank all involved with this achievement.”

Matt Colclough, Customer Service Operations Director at Siemens Mobility UKI, said: “We are really pleased to have delivered this software upgrade on the 717s so GTR can get the full potential out of the ETCS technology and benefit from state-of-the-art in-cab signalling on the Northern City Line and beyond. This will mean the digitally connected trains are enabled to talk to the smart infrastructure, so we can really make the digital railway a reality and transform passengers journeys in and out of London.”

Image credit: GTR

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