Deal signed to help provide more frequent, reliable trains and better customer information

Deal signed to help provide more frequent, reliable trains and better customer information

Passengers on one of the busiest commuter lines in the country can look forward to more frequent and more reliable trains following a deal to provide new traffic management technology on the Thameslink route through central London.

Network Rail and the Thameslink Programme have signed a contract with Hitachi Rail Europe to deliver a step-change in technology through state-of-the-art traffic management technology.

The new system will enable 24 trains per hour to run reliably through central London in each direction by 2018, allowing the Thameslink Programme to fulfil its ambition of revolutionising north-south travel through the capital.

In addition, the system will provide a real time flow of passenger information – crucial for today’s connected customers.

Rail Minster Claire Perry said: “We are investing in the Thameslink Programme because it will transform rail travel for customers in London and the south east, providing more seats and quicker journeys. It will also create thousands of jobs, making it a vital part of our long-term economic plan.

“Today’s announcement isn’t just about new technology, it’s a key way to improve customer journeys, by increasing reliability and making sure they have the right information at the right time. We have seen huge growth in the number of people travelling by train and this investment will play a key role in keeping those customers moving  safely, reliably and comfortably.”

Thameslink Programme director Simon Blanchflower said: “Providing a frequent and reliable service through the heart of the city to a host of new destinations will only be possible thanks to this technology.

“Traffic management technology will provide extra guidance to our signallers and work with in-cab signalling and automatic train operation to deliver 24 trains per hour between London Blackfriars and St Pancras International. It will also improve the time it takes the railway to recover from delays and deliver enhanced customer information, to improve performance and passengers’ experience of our railway.”

Network Rail’s core Thameslink contract with Hitachi Rail Europe covers a distance equal to 20 minutes’ travel time on either end of the central section between Blackfriars and St Pancras International. In addition, the contract includes options to expand the scope to cover the whole of the Brighton Main Line and part of the East Coast Main Line.

Q & A

What is Traffic Management?

It’s a software and hardware package that provides assistance to signallers and controllers to help improve the efficiency and reliability of our railway. In essence, it is like an omnipotent and computerised Fat Controller. It looks at where all the trains are in an area and then predicts where they will be in the future, so the signaller can make informed decisions to make sure that trains arrive in the right place at the right time.

It also offers a simulation function – usually called “plan/re-plan” – to allow signallers to test their hypotheses. Viz:  “If I hold train A here at East Croydon, what will the effects on Trains B and C be?”

In normal service, the traffic management software “talks” to the actual signalling system and can run it automatically, with the signaller overseeing it, much like a human pilot would do with an automatic pilot. That way, instead of spending his or her time pulling levers, pushing buttons and dealing with the mechanics of moving trains around, the signaller can focus on the strategy and running a better railway.

What will it do for Thameslink – technically?

  • It will provide cross industry information to allow the operators to co-ordinate their business.
  • It includes interfaces to customer information system DARWIN, to allow the update of information directly from Traffic Management
  • It includes interfaces to C-DAS (Connected Driver Advisory System) to support the Thameslink services.
  • It supplies service information to selected platforms to provide on-station information.
  • The re-planning system will allow improvement of the timetable and co-ordination of services across London, North to South.
  • In addition the system will support Automatic Train Operation over ETCS (cab signalling).