GTR to operate Class 717 fleet with in-cab digital signalling

GTR have received authorisation from the ORR to place its Class 717 fleet into passenger service with in-cab digital signalling.

Class 717

Credit: GTR

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) has received authorisation from the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) to place its Class 717 fleet into passenger service using Level 2 European Train Control System (ETCS) digital signalling.

This is a key step towards the introduction of digital signalling on both the Northern City Line, between Finsbury Park and Moorgate in London, and the East Coast Main Line between London and Grantham, as part of the government-funded East Coast Digital Programme (ECDP).

The programme will see traditional lineside signals replaced by state-of-the-art in-cab signalling technology (ETCS). On the Northern City Line this will give Great Northern passengers a more reliable service.

The trains, leased to GTR by Rock Rail, will begin running in passenger service once Network Rail has completed its approval works to switch on the trackside ETCS system. Once this second milestone is achieved later in 2023, GTR will start training, in passenger service, two hundred and fifty of its Great Northern drivers to drive using ETCS.

Using in-cab ETCS on the Northern City Line

Credit: GTR

The new system overlays the traditional signals, so drivers will be able to continue using ETCS alongside their untrained colleagues once they are qualified, ensuring they maintain full competency until everyone is trained and the old system can be switched off.

Consultants Taylor Airey and approval body Aegis Certification Services supported GTR in the preparation of its submission to the ORR which ensures that national standards are met for interoperability.

“Achieving authorisation to place our Class 717s into passenger service using ETCS is significant, both for us as an operator and the programme – it’s the first train to achieve this for digital signalling as part of the East Coast Digital Programme,” Steve Lammin, Engineering Director at GTR, said. “It’s the culmination of months of hard work by the team – both within GTR and our partners Tailor Airey and Aegis – and demonstrates that we’re making real progress towards being ready for digitally signalled operations to begin on the Northern City Line.”

 “I’m delighted that the Class 717 fleet has received level 2 ETCS APIS from the ORR,” James Airey, Director of Taylor Airey, said. “This is a major milestone for both GTR and the ECDP. Taylor Airey is proud to have been part of GTR’s team that worked hard to achieve this, and it continues our long-standing successful relationship with GTR.”

“Rock Rail is very pleased that its Class 717 fleet is the first train to achieve authorisation to enter passenger service using state-of-the-art ETCS digital signalling as part of the East Coast Digital Programme,” Mark Swindell, CEO of Rock Rail, said.


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