ATO (Automatic Train Operation)

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.

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.

Case Studies

ETCS Testing – Thameslink Core Area

ETCS testing took place during mid-week nights through the Thameslink Core Area, while adjacent lines were open to service traffic, in preparation for ATO to be enabled.

Thameslink High Capacity Infrastructure Programme

The High Capacity Improvement project has provided the European Train Control System and enhanced signalling control systems needed to support automatic train operation and timetable management. These systems are crucial to the programme being able to reliably increase train frequency from 16 to 24 tph in each direction through the core Thameslink area from Blackfriars to St Pancras.

Introducing the Siemens Class 700 fleet into service

The introduction of a whole new train fleet delivered huge benefits to passengers while demonstrating that working flexibly and collaboratively led to impressive speed improvements in the commissioning of rolling stock.