Rail (UK)

Fit ETCS as stan­dard to new trains, says NR dig­i­tal chief

- Daniel Pud­di­combe Con­tribut­ing Writer rail@bauer­me­dia.co.uk Network Rail Route 18 · Siemens · Peterborough · London · BMW · BMW Motorrad · Hitachi

NEW trains pro­cured and spec­i­fied by the Govern­ment should be fit­ted with Euro­pean Train Con­trol Sys­tem (ETCS) as stan­dard, to “fu­ture-proof” against fur­ther in­fra­struc­ture up­grades.

Speak­ing ex­clu­sively to RAIL, Toufic Mach­nouk, Net­work

Rail’s Pro­gramme Direc­tor for Dig­i­tal Rail­way on the East Coast Main Line, said that “get­ting the pro­vi­sion of the equip­ment on­board with the man­u­fac­turer would be in­cred­i­bly sen­si­ble” be­cause it cre­ates op­tions for up­grad­ing ex­ist­ing routes to the in-cab sig­nalling sys­tem.

He ex­plained that be­cause the Hi­tachi Class 800-802 fleets and Siemens Class 700 elec­tric mul­ti­ple units were fit­ted with ETCS, it “cre­ated the op­por­tu­nity” to up­grade the south­ern part of the East Coast Main Line to be con­trolled by ETCS. NR is plan­ning to in­stall ETCS on the south­ern sec­tion of the ECML between Peter­bor­ough and Lon­don by the end of Con­trol Pe­riod 6 (March 2024).

It is also con­duct­ing pre­lim­i­nary work to bring ETCS to ad­di­tional routes, in­clud­ing parts of the West Coast Main Line, the Mid­land Main Line and East Anglia. A “long-term de­ploy­ment plan” for ETCS is set to be pub­lished next year.

“If we spec­i­fied with the man­u­fac­tur­ers well, there is no real in­cre­ment to this. If you look at Hi­tachi now, it has pro­duced a style of train. It may tweak it now and again for other lines - you may want the car­riage to be shorter

- but they have the tech­nol­ogy,” said Mach­nouk.

The planned 2022 in­tro­duc­tion of Class 810s on the Mid­land Main Line has been post­poned un­til

2023 to al­low Hi­tachi to fit ETCS to the trains as they’re built, rather than hav­ing to retro-fit them after a few years.

“But if you say ‘I don’t want any of that, I want an old dial and no EVC’ [Euro­pean Vi­tal Com­puter, a core el­e­ment of the ETCS sys­tem], they al­most have to re­design the cab and retro­fit that,” said Mach­nouk.

“It is akin to go­ing to BMW and say­ing: ‘I don’t want elec­tric win­dows and I don’t want a sat­nav, can I have old push-but­tons?’

“The stan­dard cab de­sign is a driver-ma­chine in­ter­face, so I do think we need to think dif­fer­ently about how we ap­proach train spec­i­fi­ca­tion.”

Mach­nouk told RAIL he sym­pa­thises with the Govern­ment, as “there are some ar­eas which may not see ETCS for a while”, and that he un­der­stands the ar­gu­ment of “if there is an in­cre­men­tal cap­i­tal cost, is it worth­while hav­ing equip­ment on a train that may not have it for decades be­cause you need other trains to be sorted?”

But he added: “It is im­mensely eas­ier to have new trains that have ETCS fit­ted from the start. That’s the way it should be.”

 ?? RICHARD CLIN­NICK. ?? LNER 800201 heads north from Peter­bor­ough on Novem­ber 25 2019. These trains were fit­ted with ETCS when built, some­thing that Net­work Rail’s Toufic Mach­nouk wants to see be­com­ing stan­dard.
RICHARD CLIN­NICK. LNER 800201 heads north from Peter­bor­ough on Novem­ber 25 2019. These trains were fit­ted with ETCS when built, some­thing that Net­work Rail’s Toufic Mach­nouk wants to see be­com­ing stan­dard.
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