New Technology

Adapting to a digital world

The rail industry recognises it must adapt to the digital world using traffic management, driver advisory systems and digital train control. These technologies will allow us to run more trains safely and more reliably. Implementation of digital technologies requires investment in both train and infrastructure.

Releasing capacity and enabling more frequent trains on existing tracks

Thameslink Programme is leading the way by harnessing digital technology to release capacity and enable more frequent trains on existing tracks – a world first on the UK mainline railway.

New signalling and Automatic Train Operation

New equipment and technology are vital to help in delivering a right time railway. New signalling and Automatic Train Operation (ATO) will deliver real benefits to passengers, allowing trains to operate at a Tube-like frequency every 2-3 minutes across central London – something only possible with digital railway technology.

In combination with European Train Control System (ETCS) for in-cab signalling, ATO enables trains to run at much higher frequencies with a sophisticated computer system ensuring safe distances are maintained. ATO is already used on the London Underground and with growing passenger numbers on this part of the network, this is the next step for the entire rail industry and the Thameslink Programme is leading the way delivering this world-first on the UK mainline railway.

Traffic management

A Traffic Management System (TMS) will be used to support the high frequency Thameslink timetable helping to plan and re-plan train movements in real time. This decision support tool will help sequencing of trains to and from the Thameslink core to help drivers and control staff keep trains running on time, and speed up recovery from service disruption helping to reduce delays and maximise the efficiency of our existing infrastructure.

Traffic Management will improve the flow of information between signalling centres and feed customer information systems, ensuring that up to 24 trains per hour – a train every two to three minutes – can be handled at peak times through the route’s central core between St Pancras International and Blackfriars stations.

The system will initially provide advisory messages to signallers controlling the core and trains up to approximately 20 minutes travel time from central London. The messages will result in greater visibility for traffic flows across a wider network. Information can be updated in real time as interventions are made by other signallers. Station staff and can then feed station displays to improve the quality of live running information provided to passengers.

Enhanced customer information

New technology does not just apply to the new trains; at stations, enhanced customer information systems will help passengers’ understanding of where to locate toilets and restricted mobility access points.