Home Company News ETCS trial goes ahead despite Covid-19

ETCS trial goes ahead despite Covid-19

A team of railway engineers has successfully completed a suite of European Train Control System (ETCS) tests on an eight car GWR Class 387 train operating on the main line between Reading and Heathrow, despite the requirements of social distancing necessitated by the current Covis-19 epidemic.

The team was drawn from Porterbrook, PCMS, Great Western Railway, Bombardier and DB Cargo (supported by ROG) and was supported by Heathrow Airport Limited and Network Rail signalling teams along the route.

Forward facing CCTV.

To enable the tests to go ahead, innovative temporary remote monitoring equipment was installed, linking the driver’s cab with the passenger saloon where the testing team was located. Forward facing cameras were temporarily located in the train’s cabs, above the driver’s position, to relay the ETCS Driver Machine Interface (DMI) display back to the testing team located further down the train. Under ETCS, the DMI shows displays the train’s speed and movement authority to the driver.

A second camera located in the traditional ‘second-man’s’ position in the leading cab captured the infrastructure and signalling ahead to ensure there were no discrepancies between classic signals on the route and ETCS data feeds.

DMI camera.

In total 20 specific tests of the ETCS on-train and lineside equipment were completed over the weekend of the 1st – 3rd May. This means that ETCS operation on the Heathrow route remains on target for introduction later this year.

Mary Grant, CEO of Porterbrook, said: “The latest successful Class 387 ETCS proving run is a testament to what can be achieved when the railway industry works together. Despite the challenges of Covid-19, the team managed to safely maintain social-distancing and complete an exhaustive programme of tests in record time.

“My thanks to all our suppliers and partners for supporting this programme, which is a key to delivering enhanced capacity on services to Heathrow.”

Nigel Wordsworth BSc(Hons) MCIJhttp://therailengineer.com

SPECIALIST AREAS Rolling stock, mechanical equipment, project reports, executive interviews


Nigel Wordsworth graduated with an honours degree in Mechanical Engineering from Nottingham University, after which he joined the American aerospace and industrial fastener group SPS Technologies. After a short time at the research laboratories in Pennsylvania, USA, Nigel became responsible for applications engineering to industry in the UK and Western Europe. At this time he advised on various engineering projects, from Formula 1 to machine tools, including a particularly problematic area of bogie design for the HST.

A move to the power generation and offshore oil supply sector followed as Nigel became director of Entwistle-Sandiacre, a subsidiary of the Australian-owned group Aurora plc. At the same time, Nigel spent ten years as a Technical Commissioner with the RAC Motor Sports Association, responsible for drafting and enforcing technical regulations for national and international motor racing series.

Joining Rail Engineer in 2008, Nigel’s first assignment was a report on new three-dimensional mobile mapping and surveying equipment, swiftly followed by a look at vegetation control machinery. He continues to write on a variety of topics for most issues.

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