British rail infrastructure company Siemens Rail Automation has won a contract to install a new digital technology on the British freight train fleet.
The initial deployment phase of Siemens’ European Train Control System (ETCS) in-cab signalling system, designed to make freight trains safer and provide greater flexibility and efficiency in the timetable, is expected to be one of the world’s biggest retro-fit programmes.
Siemens plans to equip around 750 trains in the UK.
An installation of its ‘Trainguard 200 ETCS on-board solution’ will see Siemens work with Network Rail and six freight operating companies to ensure trains always operate within safe limits and speeds.
It will also provide safe movement authority directly and continuously to the driver through a driver’s display.
While the system permits the driver to operate the train, if the ETCS distance or speed limit is exceeded or in danger of being exceeded, the on-board equipment intervenes to control the train and bring it to stand if necessary.
The landmark contract was awarded to Siemens by the UK Government as part of its national ‘Digital Railway programme’, a plan intended to tackle growing demand and strain on the railway by accelerating its digital modernisation.
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Great Britain's freight train industry contributes $US 1.1 billion (£870 million) annually to its economy and has increased by 70% since the 1990s.
The Government has announced $US 620 million (£450 million) in funding for digital railway schemes as part of its National Productivity Investment Fund.
Commenting on the initiative, Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport in the UK, said: “We are making the biggest investment in the railways since Victorian times and this includes £450m for integrating digital technology on our railways.”
Paul McMahon, Freight Managing Director at Network Rail said: “This is a significant investment and underlines our commitment to the freight sector.
“It will assure long-term competitiveness through increased performance and is a key part of a cohesive portfolio of freight investment for CP6 and beyond.”