World-first for ATO on mainline railway
Govia Thameslink Railway, working with Network Rail and Siemens, have scored a world-first by running ATO (Automatic Train Operation) over ETCS (European Train Control System) on the GTRmainline railway in passenger service.

On Saturday, 17 March, southbound 8-car Thameslink train 700019, destination Three Bridges, brought itself to a halt automatically at London St Pancras International at 13.53 having transitioned into ETCS Level 2 Full Supervision and then ATO on its approach from Kentish Town.

With the driver checking the platforms, closing the doors and then selecting ATO again, the train with its in-cab signalling then continued under automatic control through Farringdon, City Thameslink and London Blackfriars. It finally transitioned out of the system on its exit from London Blackfriars, as it headed towards Elephant & Castle.

GTR’s Systems Integration Manager Jim Doughty, said: “This is the culmination of a programme of work that that we have been involved in since the start of our franchise three years ago. It is critical to our RailPlan20/20 modernisation programme to modernise the busiest part of the UK rail network.

“Saturday’s run followed nearly two years has paved the way for further runs. These runs will not only help build industry confidence in the system but also facilitate the commencement of the delivery of a world class training package to our drivers in readiness for the increase in services.

“This cutting-edge system will allow us to run our final high intensity Thameslink service of up to 24 trains per hour each way with 70% more seats through the centre of London, linking new communities and cutting journey times for thousands of passengers.”

New alliances
Network Rail has issued a Prior Information Notice (PIN) via The Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) process for its tender exercise to let the next generation of track works contracts, valued up to £5bn over 10 years, starting 2019.

The contracts within this PIN will cover the development, design and delivery of plain line and switches & crossings, as well as associated infrastructure works using the alliancing contract form. Three alliances will be formed between Network Rail and consortia comprising a minimum of one construction contractor and one designer. The alliances will cover the following geographic areas:

  • Alliance 1: North (Scotland Route)
  • Alliance 2: Central (London North West, and London North East & East Midland Routes)
  • Alliance 3: South (Anglia, Southeast, Wessex, Western, and Wales Routes)

The pre-qualification period for the tender is expected to start in May, and will be preceded by a supplier engagement briefing for interested suppliers on Monday 23 April.

Steve Featherstone, Network Rail’s director for track said: “This tender represents a significant commitment by Network Rail to the rail industry and we are expecting high levels of interest in these contracts from the supply chain. In return, we will be looking for clear and firm commitments from the supply chain to deliver value for Network Rail.”

The intelligent stop of the futureSmartstop
What role do stops play as pivotal public transport points in smart mobility networks of the future? This issue was addressed by the R&D project ‘smartStation – the stop as a gateway to multimodal mobility’ commissioned by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure. Together with raumobil GmbH, PTV Group developed ideas and visions on how to turn today’s analogue stops into digital hubs.

During the 18-month research phase, the project team’s first step was to identify the requirements that intelligent stops should meet. “A stop earns the label ‘smart’ when it is able to offer personalised information and services tailored to the user’s needs,” says Annette Kindl, Project Manager, PTV Research Team. And she adds: “It is therefore necessary to link mobility services and infrastructure elements.”

For this purpose, station-specific and meta data and information must be intelligently interconnected. “All relevant data will be integrated into the smartStation network in real time via a standardised protocol,” explains Annette. “Travellers can use an app to log into the so-called Infosphere, i.e. the immediate environment of a smartStation, in order to access the desired information and services. All modes of transport can thus be used intelligently and comfortably as well as energy-efficiently and cost-effectively.”

While there are challenges, Annette is convinced that the intelligent stop will be implemented soon: “Given the ongoing digitisation in the field of urban mobility, the smartStation is only the next logical step.”

Plans for new UK rail factory
FactorySiemens has signed a long-term agreement for lease of land in Goole, East Riding of Yorkshire, with plans to establish a new state-of-the-art factory to manufacture and commission trains. This development, which could mean an investment of up to £200m, is a major step forward for Siemens’ journey in the UK. Siemens aims to start phased development of the 67-acre site later in 2018, if investment conditions are met, and subject to the company’s success in major future orders.

The new factory could employ up to 700 people in skilled engineering and manufacturing roles, plus an additional 250 people during the construction phase. Around 1700 indirect jobs are expected to be created throughout the UK supply chain.

Juergen Maier, Chief Executive at Siemens UK, said: “We’ve said for some time that future success for Siemens in the rail industry would see us opening a rail manufacturing plant here and this announcement provides additional substance to those words. Having considered multiple locations in the UK, I’m delighted to confirm that we’ve identified a site in Goole for our new UK rail factory which not only has the potential scale we need for a facility of this size but also ready access to the skilled people we’d need to build and operate the factory.”

Toyota reaches out to rail industry
Rail manufacturing businesses are being invited to attend a workshop free-of-charge in May that will give a rare insight into methods proven to improve productivity. The one-day event, at the Toyota Engine Plant Deeside on May 11th, will share lessons learned in automotive manufacturing that are transferable to the rail industry. The workshop co-hosts are Toyota Lean Management Centre and the SMMT (Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders) Industry Forum. The workshop will encourage senior executives to examine and challenge their own beliefs about productivity; consider conditions necessary for success; gain a deeper understanding of the concepts of Challenge, Kaizen, Genchi-Butsu, team-work, and respect; and examine the application of knowledge to different productivity scenarios. Workshop attendance is free but Toyota and Industry Forum suggest that participating companies make a donation to the Toyota Charitable Trust upon receipt of an invitation. Visit www.industryforum. for further information.

Award win
Cubic Corporation’s business division Cubic Transportation Systems (CTS) won the ‘Transport Supplier of the Year’ award at the London Transport Awards for its relationship with Transport for London (TfL). The awards are run in association with Transport Times and supported by organisations including London Councils, London Travel Watch and London First. The independent judging panel aim to recognise excellence in transport and reward innovation and progress for transport initiatives in the city. Cubic and TfL have enjoyed one of the longest supplier relationships in the United Kingdom, spanning over three decades. Both companies have been continually paving the way for ground-breaking transport solutions that have helped keep millions of people in the city on the move each year.

Brexit: Plan for alternate realities
The rail industry needs to adopt a pragmatic approach to Brexit, given the uncertainty of the final destination, according to RSSB. Rail companies should ignore the political ping-pong and focus instead on how different outcomes could affect their own strategic goals, the industry body is advising. RSSB’s Head of Technical and Regulatory Policy, Vaibhav Puri, explains: “We simply don’t know what the post-Brexit world will look like yet. It might be tempting to fixate on a very specific risk or opportunity, but this may prove futile if things turn out differently to what was hoped for. A more complete and informed analysis of how different scenarios will actually impact your organisation and activities will mean you’re more prepared.”

Norway relies on Thales
Norway has big ambitions for its railways. The Norwegian national rail administration Bane NOR is planning the procurement of a new signalling system based on the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) standard. The goal is to renew most of the existing signalling systems on the railway network by 2034. The project includes signalling systems, on-board equipment and a national Traffic Management System (TMS).

The modernisation programme will increase the attractiveness of rail travel through improved passenger service as well as delivering environmental, social and economic benefits to Norwegian society today and tomorrow.

Norway has selected Thales to provide the next generation Traffic Management System throughout the country. Bane NOR will benefit from a proven and scalable TMS solution able to adapt to a growing and evolving network that can meet Norway’s needs for the next 25 years. Based on Thales ARAMIS, the solution has been substantially enhanced providing a cyber-secured, cloud ready platform with a fully adapted Human machine Interface