UK: Testing of New Digital Signalling System Begins on Northern City Line

Testing of the Northern City Line’s new digital signalling system has begun, marking an important milestone in the East Coast Digital Programme.

First train runs using the new digital signalling on Northern City Line
First train runs using the new digital signalling on Northern City Line.

The first test train on this line ­– a Great Northern Class 717 train – ran in the early hours of 29 May between Finsbury Park and Moorgate under the new system.

This follows on from a test carried out with a Class 717 in the Thameslink core between St Pancras and Blackfriars using digital signalling in ETCS Level 2 last September.

Testing will now continue overnight and on weekends throughout the year to ensure the train fleet works well with the new infrastructure, which communicates directly with the train cab.

Once the testing of safety and reliability is complete, driver training will begin in 2023 ahead of moving to the operational phase.

The aim is for the line to operate entirely via digital signalling by the following year.

Toufic Machnouk, Network Rail’s Director, Industry Partnership for Digital Railway, said:

“The running of the first Northern City Line train in digital signalling as part of the test campaign is a big moment for the East Coast Digital Programme, this is the first step to migration following the successful upgrade of the system earlier in May which will change the way the railway works to deliver a more reliable service.

“We’re working in close partnership with Great Northern and Siemens to deliver the extensive testing required to ensure we can proceed to the next stage of transforming this route into the capital.”

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