ETCS driving experience in Wales
Posted in Industry
Although ‘Experience Days’ are often given to mark special events, The Operational Specialist Experience Exchange has taken the concept to a whole new level. Developed through a unique industry collaboration between the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), Digital Railway programme (DRP), Network Rail and Arriva Trains Wales, the exchange provides an opportunity for Train Operators and DRP Subject Matter Experts (who are also qualified train drivers and driver managers) to experience driving under European Train Control System (ETCS) operation on the Cambrian Railway.
Ian Simmonds, RDG’s ERTMS Traincrew Training Manager, explained the programme: “Although widely understood from a theoretical viewpoint, driving under ETCS conditions can be quite daunting for the people who are delivering driver competency and training. The Operational Specialist Experience Exchange aims to help them by demystifying ETCS through a combination of theoretical and practical exercises. Following two days looking at the theory behind Cambrian baseline 2 ETCS, the course attendees then spend two days, including experiencing shift work, with an Arriva Trains Wales driver instructor working on running diagrams.”
Contrary to people’s expectations of the rural Cambrian Railway, it operates to a performance-based timetable, with tight headways and passing loop margins on a single line operation.
Arriva Trains Wales now delivers an hourly service on certain parts of the route and this is a direct result of ETCS improving performance. Experiencing this and the confidence ETCS gives to drivers, has been a real eye-opener for all those who have attended, as has the simplicity of the system when it is operating in its highest level of supervision.
Because nationally ETCS will be deployed at baseline 3, the exchange also covers some of the changes that are likely at this level as well as expected maintenance changes as a result of newer ETCS software releases. Operators who have already benefitted from the exchange include GoVia Thameslink Railway (for the Thameslink Project), MTR Crossrail (Crossrail Project – Heathrow), Virgin Trains East Coast, Great Western, Arriva Trains Wales, South Eastern (for the Thameslink Project), Freightliner and DeutscheBahn (DB) and the project is scheduled to run until Autumn 2018.