The East Coast Digital Programme will transform the East Coast Mainline from King’s Cross to Stoke Tunnels through the implementation of in-cab signalling. Backed by nearly £2 billion worth of funding from the government, the East Coast Digital Programme is the first deployment of the European Train Control System (ETCS) on a mixed-use mainline in the UK Rail Network. Upon completion, it will transform the East Coast Main Line South, one of Britain’s busiest rail networks, improving capacity and flexibility.
The process of fitting a main rail artery, with minimal disruption, requires a strategic approach. To ease the transition, the initial fitment of Welwyn to Hitchin has been scheduled to include an ‘overlay’ period where ETCS and conventional railway signaling will operate simultaneously. This will minimalise disruption to the network while providing 10.86 miles of fitted network for practical training. After training is completed, the remainder of the line will undergo fitments in segments, again ensuring minimal disruption.
Northern City line from Finsbury Park to Moorgate Resignalling
May 2022: Northern City underwent resignalling including the fitment of ETCS technology.
Length of Track
The line is currently operating in ‘shadow mode’ to further demonstrate system integrity.
August 2023: Infrastructure around Peterborough Signal Box (PSB) has reached life expiry and requires replacement. The existing area will be recontrolled from Peterborough Power Signal Box (PSB) to the York Railway Operating Centre (ROC) in preparation for ETCS fitment and movement to Level 2 (overlay) operations in the future.
length of track
The planned renewal includes an update to Dynamic Route Setting (DRS), a helpful aid to support Signaller workload.
Northern City line from Finsbury Park to Moorgate Migration
Late 2023 : Northern Line migrates from ETCS Shadow Mode to ETCS Level 2 with overlay.
Length of Track
Drayton Park and Moorgate will be the second fitment of ETCS on the underground. The first was in Heathrow Tunnels.
Welwyn to Hitchin Resignalling
Early 2024: New Computer Based Interlockings (CBI) which can communicate with the computer system in York Rail Operating Centre (ROC) will replace the existing infrastructure.
miles of track
Northern City Line Signals Away
Late 2024: Upon completion of driver training, official migration to level 2 operations and removal of signals.
miles of track
Kings Cross to Stoke Tunnels is fully ETCS operational
TBC: Kings Cross to Peterborough, including lines from Letchworth to Royston and Hertford Loop, operate in ETCS level 2. Peterborough to stoke tunnels remains as in an overlay phase until further notice.
miles of track are upgraded with ERTMS technology
signals removed total
As a large scale programme, later phases are still under consultation. We will update periodically, so please check back! The map above was last updated on 11/09/23.
To be able to continue operations on the East Coast Mainline after the fitment of ERTMS to the network, Freightliner’s own fleet of locomotives will require the retro-fitment of ERTMS technology. The addition of new technology requires the collaborative efforts of various specialists. Freightliner’s own ERTMS Engineers and Operational Specilalist have worked closely with Human Factors and Design experts to ensure a thorough design process has been followed. Freightliner’s own First in Class (FiC) Class 66 Variant Locomotive will reach the fitment stage in Autumn 2023.
The Survey Stage
- The ERTMS Team identifies each variant of locomotive within Freightliner’s fleet to confirm how many final designs are required.
- Each variant requires its own set of surveys and reviews for the remainder of the process.
- As part of this stage, an Operational and Engineering Human Factors (HF) review is completed by an expert and two reports are produced for Freightliner review.
The Concept Stage
- Using the survey reports, suggestions are made about how best to integrate the new ETCS equipment within the existing fleet.
- The ERTMS team is responsible for gaining a thorough understanding of each component and how it interacts with the current onboard systems.
- Ideas are refined as the team learns more about the ETCS equipment, its characteristics and its interfaces.
The Preliminary Design Stage
- Using information and learnings from the Concept Stage and the initial surveys, more detailed surveys are undertaken.
- The Human Factors surveys for both Operations and Engineering are also refined.
- The outcomes of these activities enable a baseline requirement to be established that facilitates the creation of technical drawings and detailed plans.
- The drawings and plans include wiring lists, human factors reports, structural calculations, assembly plans and installation drawings.
The Final Design Stage
- The issues and queries raised at the Preliminary Design Stage are all closed off leading to Freightliner, Siemens, and the Design House reaching a final design, which will include detailed instructions for the installation of each new component.
The Fitment and Initial Testing Stage
- After the vehicle is fitted by the fitment supplier (observed by the ERTMS team), Freightliner and the supplier carry out static and dynamic tests.
- Once accepted, the First-in-class vehicle is then required to complete ‘Shakedown Running’; which is the accrual of fault free miles to test reliability.
- If fault free miles are completed then the loco is entered back into normal revenue earning service.
Freightliner ERTMS Team Programme Contributions
Freightliner’s ERTMS Team have been leaders and active contributors to various Programme Projects and Working Groups including:
- The development of both Level National Train Control (NTC) and Level 2 training packages.
- RSSB committees and research projects including Vehicle/Train Control & Communication System Interface Committee, Train Control Sub-group, and DRACAS Sub Group.
- Locomotive and wagon brake testing to support industry ETCS Lambda brake calculations.
- Cyber security assessments and ETCS Key Management.
- Project Wow, an East Coast Digital Programme group committed to the recruitment, support and upskilling of the next generation of rail employees.