First tests take place of train retrofitted with digital signalling equipment 23 May 2022

Network Rail’s state of the art Rail Innovation & Development Centre (RIDC) has carried out its first testing of a train retrofitted with onboard digital signalling equipment.

The Class 180 train, owned by Angel Trains and operated by Grand Central, has been retrofitted with European Train Control System (ETCS) equipment to enable operation with digital signalling. This has been made possible by the recent upgrading of the RIDC facility in Melton Mowbray to enable testing of trains fitted with ETCS technology.

Following the upgrade, First in Class (FiC) ETCS trains can undergo dynamic testing to support the approval and authorisation process for operation on the GB rail network. This will enable the readiness of all trains for the government-funded East Coast Digital Programme (ECDP), which will ultimately see traditional signals removed from the tracks on the southern part of the East Coast Main Line.

The Class 180 arrived at RIDC at the end of April. Alstom, supported by partners at Network Rail, Grand Central and Angel Trains completed FiC testing and accumulated endurance running to prove the reliability of the Alstom ATLAS 2 ETCS onboard system. The trackside ETCS system installed at RIDC has also been delivered by Alstom’s expert signalling team in the UK.

Alstom’s Onboard ETCS system fitted to the Class 180 is the first onboard system tested at RIDC that is compliant with ETCS standard Baseline 3 Release 2 (required standard for ECDP roll out). The onboard system is the first to support Packet 44, which enables operation with GB specifics such as miles per hour.

The teams are currently reviewing the results from the testing and undertaking detailed planning for the next key project milestone which will be to commission the Class 180 into ETCS Level-NTC (National Train Control) operation later this year, the next step towards supporting full ETCS operation on the East Coast Main Line in the near future.

Operations Engineer

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