First-in-class fitment of ETCS underway on DB Cargo UK locomotive

Work to install the latest version of ETCS on DB Cargo UK’s Class 66 locomotive has marked the start of fitment to freight vehicles in the UK as part of the East Coast Digital Programme.


Credit: DB

After several years of design and planning, DB Cargo UK’s Class 66 locomotive (66039) has now been delivered to Electro-Motive Diesel’s engineering workshop in Doncaster where the technological transformation will take place.

The ‘first-in-class’ fitment will take around six months to complete and is a significant milestone in the roll-out of the new European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) in the rail freight sector. It will create the blueprint for the roll-out to the largest class of locomotives – the Class 66.

The East Coast Digital Programme

The roll-out is being coordinated by the East Coast Digital Programme, a cross-industry partnership led by Network Rail which is managing the introduction of ERTMS on the East Coast Main Line and is setting the path for the Long Term Deployment Plan (LTDP) of future roll-outs of the system.

Earlier in 2022, the UK government announced an additional £1 billion of funding to facilitate the first phase of ERTMS on a 100-mile stretch of the East Coast Main Line from London Kings Cross to just south of Grantham.

DB Cargo UK, working in close partnership with our colleagues at Siemens Mobility and Network Rail, is delighted to be playing a pioneering role in the roll-out of ERTMS and ETCS which will use digital technology to create a more dynamic, more reliable, and more flexible railway here in the UK,” Marie Hill, Chief Transformation and Digitalisation Officer for DB Cargo UK, said. “Increased digitalisation and automation of our assets and processes will ensure we can continue to deliver, fast, efficient, reliable services fit for the 21st century and beyond. That’s what our customers expect and that is what ERTMS will help us to deliver.”

Installing ERTMS on freight locomotive

DB Cargo UK, the UK’s largest rail logistics provider, was chosen to be the first freight operator to install ETCS on its Class 66, 67, 60 and 325 fleets. As well as leading on the first-in-class fitment programme, the company was also introducing a whole new set of operational and business processes to support the switch to digital signalling.

“Commencing the installation of ETCS on this freight locomotive marks a significant milestone on the East Coast Digital Programme and brings us closer to creating a more dynamic and reliable railway for all those using the East Coast Main Line,” Ed Akers, Principal Programme Sponsor for the East Coast Digital Programme at Network Rail, said. “A lot of hard work has gone into getting us to this point, so I’d like recognise and thank those involved for their dedication.”

“This first installation is a key milestone marking the first of over 700 locomotives to be fitted,” Ian Macleod, Project Director for Siemens Mobility, said. “We are proud to be working together with Network Rail and DB Cargo preparing the first vehicle for its testing and operation in 2023.”

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