The Anonymous Widower

Brexit – Signalling Implications For The UK

The title of this post is that of an article on Rail Engineer.

It looks at how rail signalling will be affected by Brexit.

It is an article worth reading.

Remember that signalling is the instructions that keeps a railway functioning, just like the operating system does on your computer.

The article starts like this.

With Britain on a course to leave the EU, how might the plans for signalling (control and communications) be affected? In short, nobody really knows, but a number of factors might now change the policy that had existed hitherto. Not having to comply with EU rules on interoperability, the non-inclusion of TEN routes and the advertising of large contracts in the European Journal might all lead to a different (or modified) approach.

So will it lead to different approach?

I don’t know either, but if you read the article we have gone a long way to creating a signalling system, that is some way along the path to meeting the ultimate EU aims.

ERTMS

The article says this about ERTMS or \European Rail Transport Management System.

ERTMS, and its constituent parts of ETCS and GSM-R, has been a corner stone of European signalling policy for over two decades. Both have taken far too long to come to maturity, with ETCS Level 2 just about at a stable level and GSM-R, whilst rolled out throughout the UK, facing an obsolescence crisis within the next ten years.

ETCS or European Train Control System is not fully deployed, but in the UK, we have made some progress.

  • The Cambrian Line has been equipped as a learning exercise.
  • Significant testing has been performed on the Hertford Loop Line
  • ETCS is being installed and has been tested in the central core of Thameslink.
  • Crossrail will be using ETCS.
  • ETCS is being implemented on the Southern part of the East Coast Main Line.

GSM-R is the communication system from train to signallers.

Looking at this , shows that although the UK fully implemented a GSM-R network by January 2016, not many countries have got as far as the UK.

Surely, you need decent communications to run an efficient and safe railway.

I think it is true to say we’ve not been idle.

The article talks about alternatives and shows a few cases where an alternative approach has been taken.

  • Norwich-Ely and Crewe-Shrewsbury have been resignalled using a modular system.
  • Scotland has decided to go its own way in the Far North.
  • The article talks about CBTC or Commuincations-Based Train Control, which is used on several systems around the world including London’s Jubilee and Northern Lines.

The article also says this about CBTC

The endless committees to discuss and agree how the standards will be implemented do not get in the way. Whilst not suitable for main line usage (at least in the foreseeable future), there could be suburban routes around cities (for example Merseyrail) that could benefit from CBTC deployment.

Could CBTC be a practical system without the bureaucracy?

But these alternatives all smell of pragmatism, where the best system is chosen for a particular line.

But we have one great advantage in that we have imnplemented a comprehensive digital network covering the whole network.

This is no Internet of Things, but an Internet of Trains.

Software

As a computer programmer, I couldn’t leave this out of the signalling recipe.

You can bet your house, that somewhere there are programmers devising solutions to get round our problems.

And they will!

Conclusion

I can’t believe that other industries are not giving the same opportunities to the disruptive innovators of the UK.

Brexit might be good for us, in a surprising way!

Nothing to do with politics or immigration and all to do with innovation!

 

October 11, 2016 Posted by | Computing, Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

Inverness Airport To Get A Railway Station

This article on Global Rail News is entitled Planning application submitted for Inverness Airport station.

This Google Map shows Inverness Airport.

Inverness Airport

Cutting across the map, to the South-East of the Airport and parallel to the main runway is the Aberdeen to Inverness Line.

The station would be a replacement for the closed Dalcross station and Wikipedia has a section on the Proposed New Station. This is said.

In June 2006 a proposal was announced to open a new station at Dalcross, which would serve Inverness Airport and also provide park-and-ride facilities for commuters to Inverness, relieving road congestion to the east of Inverness,[9] and so helping to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The proposal was still open in 2010, and it was specified that the station could have one platform on the north side of the line, 150 metres (490 ft) long, enough for a six-car Class 170 train.

The Aberdeen Press and Journal also has the story and says this.

The proposed location of the development is adjacent to the C1017 airport access road, between the first and second roundabouts after leaving the existing A96, at the southern corner of the airfield.

The platform will be capable of accommodating high-speed trains with five carriages and two engine cars, as proposed by operators Abellio.

So it would seem that the go-ahead has been given.

October 11, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , | 3 Comments

Will Crossrail And Its Class 345 Trains Set Mobile Connection Standards For The UK?

Search for “Class 345 trains 4G” or “Class 345 trains wi-fi” and you find reports like this on London Reconnections about the Class 345 train.

This or something like it, is said in several of these reports.

According to the accompanying press notes both free wifi and 4G services will be delivered on board, as will multiple wheelchair and luggage spaces.

It would be very embarrassing for London’s flagship multi-billion pound project, if it wasn’t correct.

So it would appear that I could board a Class 345 train at Shenfield and watch a video all the way to Heathrow or Reading.

But where does this leave Thameslink?

Their Class 700 trains have been designed without wi-fi, 4G and power-sockets as I said in By Class 700 Train To Brighton And Back.

But at least Siemens felt that the Department for Transport, who ordered the trains, were out of step with reality and  appear to have made provision to at least fit wi-fi.

This article on Rail Engineer is entitled Class 707 Breaks Cover and it describes the Class 707 train, which is a sister train to the Class 700. This is said about the two trains and wi-fi and toilets.

Thameslink (or the Department for Transport which ordered the trains) decided not to include Wi-Fi in the Class 700s, a questionable decision that has now apparently been reversed. Fortunately, Siemens had included the technology framework in the design so, hopefully, the upgrade will not require too much effort. Suffice it to say that South West Trains has included Wi-Fi in its specification for Class 707s.

Reversing the story, Thameslink Class 700s are all fitted with toilets. However, South West Trains has decided not to include toilets in its Class 707 specification given that the longest journey time is less than one hour and their inclusion would reduce the overall capacity of the trains.

So it appears that Siemens may have future-proofed the trains.

This article on the Railway Gazette describes the third fleet of the Siemens trains; the Class 717 trains for Moorgate services. This is said.

Plans for the installation of wi-fi are being discussed with the Department for Transport as part of a wider programme for the GTR fleet.

So at least something is happening.

But how close will mobile data services get to the ideal that customers want.

  • 4G everywhere from the moment you enter a station until you leave the railway at your destination station.
  • Seamless wi-fi, so you log in once and your login is valid until you leave the railway.

It will be tough ask to achieve, as it must be valid on the following services.

  • Crossrail
  • Thameslink
  • London Overground
  • London Underground
  • All train services terminating in London.

And why not all buses, trams and taxis?

On a related topic, I believe that for safety and information reasons, all bus and tram stops and railway stations must have a quality mobile signal and if it is possible wi-fi.

One life saved would make it all worthwhile.

 

October 11, 2016 Posted by | Computing, Transport | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment