Network Rail’s RIDC Tests Its First Retrofitted ETCS Train

Alstom has carried out the first testing at Network Rail’s Innovation & Development Centre (RIDC) of a train retrofitted with European Train Control System (ETCS) equipment.

The testing was carried out on a Class 180 train, owned by Angel Trains and operated by Grand Central. The train has been retrofitted with European Train Control System (ETCS) equipment that enables it to operate using digital signalling. This milestone was made possible by the recent upgrading of the RIDC facility in Melton Mowbray.

Following the upgrade, First in Class (FiC) ETCS trains can undergo dynamic testing at Network Rail’s RIDC to support their authorisation to operate on the British rail network. This process will allow for the readiness of all trains for the East Coast Digital Programme (ECDP).

Retrofitted ETCS Train
Network Rail’s RIDC has carried out its first testing of a train retrofitted with onboard digital signalling equipment
Toufic Machnouk, Network Rail’s Director, Industry Partnership for Digital Railway, said:

“The availability of RIDC to commence the testing of the first retrofitted train is a key corner stone in GB digital capability and the network master plan. It provided the proving ground for ETCS trains that will enable the migration to ETCS operations on the network. This is a national capability for the industry that will serve the ECDP as the vanguard scheme and the broader application of digital signalling technology in this country.”

The Class 180 arrived at RIDC in April 2022. Alstom completed the testing with support from partners at Network Rail, Grand Central and Angel Trains to prove the reliability of the Alstom ATLAS 2 ETCS onboard system. The trackside ETCS system installed at the RIDC was also delivered by Alstom’s UK signalling team.

Retrofitted ETCS Train
The onboard system is the first to support Packet 44, which enables operation with GB specifics such as miles per hour
Jason Baldock, Alstom Digital & Integrated Systems (D&IS) UK Managing Director said:

“This is a hugely important milestone not just for Alstom and our partners on the Class 180 project, but also the wider industry, as we have now tested in the UK the most up-to-date ETCS Onboard technology at the state-of-the-art RIDC Melton test track, which has also been delivered by an Alstom team. This is a huge step forward for the future roll-out of ETCS in the UK, and is a testament to the hard work and collaboration of the participating businesses in delivering this technologically challenging project.”

The testing results are currently being reviewed and the teams are undertaking detailed planning to commission the Class 180 into ETCS Level-NTC (National Train Control) operation later this year.

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