Thameslink fleet set for ETCS upgrade

Industry partners in the East Coast Digital Programme have signed a £32.7million contract to upgrade the Class 700 Thameslink fleet with the latest ETCS.

Thameslink fleet set for additional digital upgrade 2

Credit: Network Rail

Industry partners in the transformational East Coast Digital Programme (ECDP) have signed a £32.7million contract to upgrade the Class 700 Thameslink fleet to the latest specification of European Train Control System (ETCS). The five-year contract was signed by Cross London Trains, DfT, Govia Thameslink Railway, Network Rail and Siemens Mobility.

The 115-strong Thameslink fleet is the largest passenger fleet in a programme designed to replace conventional signals at the side of the track with state-of-the-art digital signalling – providing continuous, real-time information to the driver’s cab.

The technology will mean more reliable and greener services for passengers and freight, creating the next generation railway. Coupled with the retrofit of ETCS to Great Northern’s Class 387 Electrostars [see past press release] and the wider ECDP fleet fitment programme, the Class 700 upgrade will help unlock the potential for the remarkable benefits of digital signalling to be rolled out to other parts of the UK network.

Software design and development for the upgrade will take place from this summer, with a programme of testing and commissioning on the first-in-class 700 unit set to get underway from 2024. The entire fleet will be upgraded in 2026 following the completion of the safety approvals and validation process.

“This is great news for our trains, our passengers and the East Coast Digital Programme,” Aaron Meakin, ERTMS Fleet Project Manager at Govia Thameslink Railway, said. “Together with five industry partners, we’ve signed a contract that will upgrade our trains to the very latest in digital signalling technology.”

“We are delighted to be working with our industry partners to provide and install the technology that will enable a transformation for passengers on the East Coast route,” Sambit Banerjee, Managing Director of Rolling Stock and Customer Services at Siemens Mobility, said. “The Class 700 has been operating with ETCS in central London since its introduction in 2016 and this upgrade will unlock further benefits.”

“Preparing and upgrading trains is the biggest challenge ECDP faces, due to the complexity involved with many partners and commercial arrangements,” Ed Akers, Principal Programme Sponsor, ECDP at Network Rail, said. “We’ve worked hard to secure this new contract for the largest passenger fleet on ECDP and all parties will be working collaboratively to ensure effective delivery of these upgrades.”