An industry programme for digital modernisation
Digital Railway is industry’s plan for targeting digital systems to increase rail capacity and improve network performance
Demand on the railway continues to grow at a pace that means we are running out of capacity at key pinch-points, leading to congestion for passenger and freight services. We need to find innovative ways of squeezing more from the existing network by targeting deployment of relevant digital technologies. The question is not whether to introduce these technologies, but how quickly we can roll them out to solve critical capacity and performance challenges on the rail network.
The industry needs to continue to work together to reduce the costs and accelerate the transition to digitally run railways, so we can unlock the benefits much sooner.
Digital Railway’s partners in industry and government are working together to define a robust delivery plan that applies lessons from major infrastructure upgrades. For example, the Programme integrates key elements of the change needed into a common national strategy – from driver training, to cab fitment, to cyber security. Consultation will continue throughout 2016 to confirm the best possible timetable for delivering different elements of the plan to solve critical capacity and performance challenges on the rail network.
There are broadly four ways of improving capacity on the railway. But as the diagram below shows, two of the options are no longer available where the problems are most significant. Our roads are very congested, and we have exhausted options that lengthen trains and platforms where it is most needed. Building new tracks into our biggest, busiest cities would be hugely expensive and disruptive (and in some places is simply not possible). We need to find a way to get more performance out of our existing railway and manage our network more efficiently.
We are already seeing digital railway make a difference in early deployments
At Romford the mission is to enhance how we operate and manage the Thameside services for customers through the implementation of the first integrated Traffic Management solution in Great Britain. Deployment of TM at Romford will provide system approval and the opportunity to measure the TM system benefits and operating capabilities and contribute to strategy for subsequent deployments.
Progress to date includes:
- Commenced the installation of infrastructure
- Commenced training programmes
- Commenced organisational change
The deployment of Automatic Train Operation over ETCS Level 2 will allow 24 trains per hour to run in each direction at peak times through the Thameslink Core Area between Blackfriars and St Pancras International stations.
ETCS/ATO infrastructure has already been installed through the Core Area, and ETCS and ATO train/infrastructure integration testing is currently taking place with new Class 700 trains to support system commissioning and entry into service in early 2018.
Traffic Management is also being delivered across a broadly 20 minute radius of the Thameslink Core, providing interfaced TM through central London and isolated TM outside this area.
TM will support operational staff in delivering the timetable and support service recovery for all operators across its geographic area.
The outline TM system design is complete and work is ongoing through LNE/EM and South East Route teams to develop the Route Operating Model. TM will be delivered progressively through 2018 to support the introduction of the May and December 2018 timetables.