UK: Class 66 Locomotive Starts Dynamic Testing with ETCS

Network Rail has announced that the first locomotive equipped with digital signalling in Britain’s principal freight fleet has commenced dynamic testing.

The Class 66 locomotive has successfully completed static testing and will now be tested dynamically on a test track.

Once it has completed dynamic testing, the locomotive will accumulate 5,000 miles of fault-free running before going through the required regulatory approvals.

66039 fitted with ETCS technology
66039 fitted with ETCS technology

The DB Cargo locomotive 66039 is the First in Class (FiC) to be retrofitted with European Train Control System (ETCS) equipment. This work was completed at the Progress Rail depot in Doncaster before the vehicle was hauled to Network Rail’s Rail Innovation and Development Centre (RIDC) in Leicestershire, which is equipped for ETCS testing.

Neil Ethell, Chief Operating Officer, DB Cargo UK, said:

“Today marks a significant milestone for DB Cargo (UK) on the journey to becoming European Train Control System (ETCS) ready. We’re incredibly proud to be undertaking the first in class fitment of a Class 66. Overall, the design and installation for the Class 66 has taken 4 years, which shows the level of complexity in a retro fitment project of this scale. We’re excited to see how it performs under rigorous testing at RIDC.”

The Class 66 is the most common type of freight locomotive on Britain’s rail network. This milestone therefore marks a step towards equipping hundreds of vehicles with digital signalling to enable the operation of longer, faster and heavier trains.

Throughout this project, Siemens Mobility is providing the design and fitment of its ETCS Trainguard 200 on-board equipment.

Rob Morris, Joint CEO of Siemens Mobility said:

“The Class 66 moving to RIDC marks a major step forward for the Programme. Our teams and fitment partners have worked tirelessly to deliver. The retrofitting will transform the everyday for freight users as well as delivering wider societal and community benefits afforded by digital signalling. A tremendous well done to all involved to date.”

This work has involved collaboration with all freight operators in the East Coast Digital Programme (ECDP), who shared learnings and agreed on the base design with Siemens Mobility.

The process has taken 16 months from the start of retrofitting. By investing this time, it is anticipated that the FiC design will enable an ongoing fitment programme, eventually providing regulatory approval for all Class 66s and Class 67s.

Ed Akers, Network Rail’s Principal Sponsor, ECDP, said:

“The task of retrofitting hundreds of freight locomotives is one of the biggest challenges we face in the transition to a digital future. The Class 66 FiC project has required innovation, tenacity and perseverance to get to this point. I pay tribute to the hard work of all those involved – the industry wide collaboration involved is providing a strong foundation for the ongoing process of freight ETCS fitment.”


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