posted on 25th Apr 2023 08:59
On 24 April 2023 Govia Thameslink Railway’s first Class 387/1 Great Northern Electrostar train has been retrofitted with ETCS in-cab signalling as part of the East Coast Digital Programme, designed to reduce delays and give passengers a more reliable service. The Class 387 is the country’s first major commuter fleet to have the technology retrofitted, and it lays the foundations for the upgrade to be applied to the rest of the UK’s vast Electrostar fleet, for future expansion of ETCS across other routes.
387 101 was installed with the latest iteration of ETCS in the UK (BL3 R2, also referred to as version 3.6.0), including equipment that will allow the in cab-signalling system to function. Each new component was put through powered-down electrical testing to ensure correct installation of the ETCS. On 13 April, the train was hauled by GBRf from Worksop to Alstom's Litchurch Lane manufacturing site in Derby, where Train Control Management System software will be installed and the Atlas 3 ETCS OBU will be commissioned ready to start static testing, expected to take approximately five weeks.
The unit will then be taken to Network Rail’s RIDC test track at Melton Mowbray for dynamic testing. This ‘first-in-class’ unit is set to return in December 2023, after which GTR will fit the remaining 28 387/1 units at its in-house depot in Hornsey, north London.
The Government-funded East Coast Digital Programme will see traditional signals removed from the tracks on the Northern City Line to London Moorgate and the East Coast Mainline from London to Stoke Tunnels, south of Grantham. They will be replaced with ETCS digital signalling technology. In-cab signalling provided by ETCS Level 2 operation supplies continual speed information and movement authority to the driver via a computer screen in the driver’s cab, rather than relying on fixed lineside signals.
The equipment installed to allow the in cab-signalling system to function included:
- a new digital driver's dashboard,
- a new AWS/TPWS system,
- Doppler radar and ETCS antennae beneath the soleplate,
- a European Vital Computer - the main computer - fitted at the body end of the first car,
- on-board ETCS software - in line with the latest revision of the ETCS standards
In addition to the Class 387s, GTR operates two further fleets of train which will eventually be run under ETCS as part of the East Coast Digital Programme:
- 25 Great Northern Class 717 trains. They operate the Northern City Line, which runs from the East Coast Mainline at Finsbury Park to London Moorgate, where Network Rail has installed digital infrastructure as part of the East Coast Digital Programme. The trains came fitted with ETCS B3 MR1 (also referred to as version 3.4.0), but GTR will be upgrading the software to 3.6.0 and, this autumn, will be testing the latest version of ETCS ahead of upgrading the software on the entire fleet early next year. The trains have been dynamically tested on the route and GTR has been given authorisation from the Office of Road and Rail (ORR) to use them in passenger service. Driver training will begin in passenger service once the infrastructure receives similar sign-off
- 115 of the Thameslink Class 700 trains which are already fitted with ETCS will be upgraded to the latest version of BL3 R2 (also referred to as version 3.6.0).