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.
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 companies 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 mofdular system.
- Scotland has decided to go its own way in the Far North.
- The article talks about CBTC or Commuincations-Based Train Control, which 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 the line.
But we have one great advantage in that we have imnplemented a comprehensive digotal network covering the whole network.
This is no Internet of Things, but an Internet of Trains.
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!
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!