Class 43 ETCS retrofit achieves Level 2 Testing

The state-of-the-art European Train Control System (ETCS), compliant to the latest UNISIG baseline (B3R2), has been successfully retrofitted to three of Porterbrook’s Class 43 Power cars, marking a major step forward for the UK Digital Railway Programme.

The ETCS in-cab signalling technology is set to transform the railway network; improving performance, reducing delays, enhancing safety and reducing costs by removing trackside signalling.

Porterbrook, the lead ROSCO for the Class 43 under the National Joint ROSCO Programme, and owner of the three vehicles that have been successfully retrofitted, awarded the contract to carry out the First in Class (FiC) design and fitment project to Thales in 2018.

The Class 43 Power cars that have been fitted and tested are part of Network Rail’s New Measurement Train, which carries out essential infrastructure monitoring work across the whole network. Fitment of ETCS is a priority to enable continued data recording on the East Coast and other areas as the technology is rolled out.

The project is the first time that Thales has fitted the ETCS On-Board System in the UK. Following successful Level 2 Testing at Network Rail’s Melton Rail Innovation & Development Centre (RIDC) over the last two weeks, preparation is now underway for the units to undergo full testing and reach Approval to Place Into Service by the end of the year.

Ben Ackroyd, Chief Operating Officer at Porterbrook, said: “Successful testing of Thales ETCS equipment is a major milestone, and we are delighted that the New Measurement Train will continue to operate on the East Coast once conventional signals are removed as we move to ETCS Level 2.

“This project is a key part of the rollout of the Digital Railway and my thanks goes to everyone who has played their part in getting us to this important stage.”

Mark Newill, Head of On-board Portfolio at Thales said: “This milestone proves Thales’s capability to modify existing cabs with the new digital in-cab system so they can be ETCS-compatible. The multiple stakeholders involved worked collaboratively to get us to the point where we can trial the system on an operational track.”


Notes to Editors:

  1. The Class 43s have been fitted with ETCS under the UK’s Digital Railway programme, funded by the Department for Transport through Network Rail and managed by the National Joint ROSCO Programme (NJRP).
  2. The FiC contract was let to Thales by Porterbrook as the lead ROSCO for the Class 43 (supported by Angel Trains, Eversholt Rail and First Rail Holdings), under the NJRP.
  3. ETCS (European Train Control System) is a modern train protection system that ensures the safe transportation of passengers and goods. In an effort to harmonise the continent’s networks, ETCS has been the European standard since 1986. Today, ETCS is in service not only in Europe but also in many countries around the world. ETCS was developed to promote interoperability across Europe but it is being rapidly adopted by operators worldwide, whether they have borders to cross or not.
    1. More trains: ETCS can boost the capacity of existing networks by up to 40%.
    2. Impact on life cycle cost: elimination of trackside equipment, including signals; means reduced maintenance costs