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Crossrail 2 to cut signalling systems

crossrail tunnel

Crossrail 2 is using the lessons learnt from the previous Crossrail and Thameslink projects and will use one signalling system across the entire line.

The new rail line, connecting Broxbourne to the north of London and Epsom, Shepperton and Chessington South in the south and south west of London, will use the European Train Control System (ETCS), even where it transfers onto existing lines.

“The difference between Thameslink, Crossrail and Crossrail 2 is the equipment on the (Crossrail 2)  train will effectively only be ETCS but it will recognise the legacy type of signalling,” said Network Rail head of Crossrail 2 Chris Curtis. “Therefore there will only be one computer on the train, not three like the Crossrail trains.”

Crossrail is using a complex combination of three separate signalling systems on board its trains to be able to interface with the systems used on the existing Network Rail sections of the route.

In the north east it will use the Train Protection & Warning System (TPWS), the central section – on its own dedicated tracks – will use Communications-based train control (CBTC) and in the west it will return to TPWS. It is also working to interface with Network Rail’s introduction of the European Train Control System (ETCS) for the digital railway programme.

Crossrail chief executive officer Andrew Wolstenholme highlighted the complex issues which Crossrail is currently facing as it tests the new systems and the integration between them.

“When you introduce new technologies you always have to be cautious,” said Wolstenholme. ”Most of the work we’re doing now is in laboratories, writing the software, testing the software. We have trains at Melton going up and down and testing three levels of signalling software and we have software on the trains themselves. It’s a very complex programme indeed and it’s probably equally as complicated as introducing a new Boeing or Airbus.

“Signalling systems these days don’t reside on the track side, they reside in the train cab and the computing power of the train brain has to be enormous. What’s happening now is the final code is being tested to make sure we can travel across those complex interfaces in a way that passengers find seamless.”

Curtis said the Crossrail 2 project was now learning from the previous projects and implementing the simpler system from the start.

“The key bit from Crossrail and Thameslink is we worked out all of this as we went along,” said Curtis. “On Crossrail 2, we’re using it right from the beginning.

“The intention is that if you make the trains easier to operate then it will be cheaper from a maintenance point of view and there’ll be less risk. It’s early days, but that’s the intention.”

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