The Anonymous Widower

Could ERTMS And ETCS Solve The Newark Crossing Problem?

This is an updated version of what, I originally published the following in Will The East Coast Main Line Give High Speed Two A Run For Its Money To The North East Of England?

The Newark Crossing is the railway equivalent of a light-controlled pedestrian crossing in the middle of a motorway.

This Google Map shows the crossing.


  1. The East Coast Main Line (ECML) running roughly North-South
  2. The A 46 road crossing the line.
  3. The Nottingham-Lincoln Line running parallel to the road.
  4. A chord allowing trains to go between the Nottingham-Lincoln Line and Newark North Gate station, which is to the South.
  5. The River Trent.

Complicated it certainly is!

I wrote about the problems in The Newark Crossing and felt something radical needed to be done.

Looking at the numbers of trains at the Newark Crossing.

  • The number of trains crossing the ECML is typically about three trains per hour (tph) and they block the ECML for about two minutes.
  • But then there could be a fast train around every four minutes on the ECML, with eight tph in both directions.

Would a Control Engineer’s solution, where all trains are computer controlled through the junction, be possible?

ERTMS,  which is digital in-cab signalling is being installed on the ECML and will allow the following.

  • Trains to be able to run at up to 140 mph.
  • Trains to be precisely controlled from a central signalling system called ETCS.

ERTMS and ETCS are already working successfully on Thameslink.

Suppose all trains going through the Junction on both the ECML  or the Nottingham-Lincoln Line, were running using ERTMS and ETCS.

  • Currently, there are three tph crossing from East to West and three tph crossing from West to East. Which means that the junction is blocked six times per hour for say two minutes.
  • Suppose the signalling could control the crossing trains, so that an East to West and a West to East train crossed at the same time.
  • To cater for contingencies like late and diverted trains, you might allow the trains to cross at up to for tph.

Instead of six tph, the frequency across the junction would be no more than four tph.

A similar paired crossing procedure can be applied to trains on the ECML.

The outcome is that you are scheduling a smaller number of double events, which must be easier.

I suspect there are other tricks they can do to increase capacity.

There’s also the problem of what happens if a crossing train fails, as it goes over the East Coast Main Line. But that must be a problem now!

Whatever happens here will be a well-thought through solution and it will add to the capacity of the East Coast Main Line and increase the line-speed from the current 100 mph.


July 8, 2020 - Posted by | Transport/Travel | , ,


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