Govia Thameslink Railway’s Class 717 EMU fleet has been granted authorisation by the Office of Rail and Road to operate under European Train Control System (ETCS) Level 2 signalling.
Network Rail is still to complete approval works to switch on the lineside ETCS system; this is due later this year. GTR operates 25 of the Siemens-built trains, which will run under ETCS on the Northern City line between Finsbury Park and Moorgate. An overlay approach retaining existing signals will allow drivers to use ETCS as they are trained on it – GTR plans to train 250 drivers once the lineside ETCS is approved.
The Northern City line ETCS installation is part of the wider East Coast Digital Programme which will fit the system on the East Coast main line as far north as Grantham.
Investment in the order of £350 million has already been committed to the programme, with NR requesting a further £427 million as part of the Control Period 7 settlement. Total investment is expected to be almost £2 billion, with infrastructure accounting for about half, 20% for rolling stock and 25% for business change including crew training.