More than half of trains to London’s Moorgate station now use digital signalling

New ETCS is now in operation on over half of trains heading to Moorgate

Mark Wilson Add a Comment 4 Min Read
717021 on the East Coast Mainline - Govia Thameslink Railway

Over half of trains heading into on services are being signalled using the European Train Control System (ETCS).

The ground breaking ETCS system is very effective and enables trains to run closer together, creating a frequent service for passengers.

It also saves the installation and operation of potentially expensive signalling systems, instead drivers are fed information on target speeds which is re-laid to a digital screen in the cab. These speeds vary depending on the distance of the train in front.

GN Train using the new ETCS system - Govia Thameslink Railway
Great Northern Train using the new ETCS system –

The Northern City Line is part one of the ETCS installation on the East Coast Main Line (ECML) and is part of the .

On completion, the ECML will be the first mainline in the country to use the ETCS throughout the 393 mile route between London Kings Cross and Edinburgh.

The program's completion hopes to make the ETCS East Coast system a pioneer for other mainline railways across the country to follow, resulting in the removal of the majority of fixed signals across the rail system.

Development and installation of the ETCS on the Northern City Line began in 2020. It has been tested and used on test trains that weren't in public service, last November the first public revenue earning train used the new technology, since then over half of public services use the system heading into and out of Moorgate from , thanks to Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) training more drivers to use the system.

The ETCS being trailed on a test train – Govia Thameslink Railway

Currently, drivers operating Great Northern services are using both systems, the new ETCS and the traditional colour light signals, as not all the trains are yet compliant with the new system.

The colour lights will remain in front line service until all the trains have been fitted with ETCS and all the drivers have been subsequently trained.

“We are delighted that our Great Northern commuters can now expect at least every other train to be digitally signalled.

“It represents a significant step towards a digital future in which technology will improve customer journeys on both the Northern City Line and, eventually, the East Coast Main Line. We are proud to share our knowledge and experience gained here with the rest of the rail industry.”

Oliver Turner, head of digital signalling (Head of ERTMS) at GTR

By introducing the new digital signalling system on a busy commuter line with frequent services, it provides a foundation on which to build the next phase of the program, which will be fitting the ETCS system on the southern end of the ECML between Kings Cross and Grantham. The first test train to operate as part of this second phase was undertaken a fortnight ago.

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