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Thales supports rollout of UK Digital Railway programme


"Onboard ETCS is an essential building block of the Digital Railway programme."

  • Thales wins the fitment and supply of European Train Control System (ETCS) onboard units for Class 43 high-speed train retrofit
  • Implementation will benefit passengers and freight operators by delivering additional capacity, improving performance, enhancing safety and reducing the costs of operating the national railway 

As a key player in delivering this digital transformation, Thales has been awarded the contract for the Class 43 First in Class (FiC) design and fitment project that will use Network Rail’s new measurement train power cars in the Infrastructure Measurement fleet. The FiC project will culminate in a Type approval from the Office of Road and Rail to enable subsequent Class 43 ETCS fleet fitments.
The new Thales onboard system will be integrated as part of the Digital Railway train control system, and will enable rolling stock to operate on ETCS-equipped infrastructure. The onboard equipment is an evolution of Thales’s level 1 ETCS system that has been successfully deployed worldwide.
The Class 43s will be fitted with ETCS under the UK’s Digital Railway programme, funded by the Department for Transport through Network Rail and managed by the National Joint ROSCO Program (NJRP).
The Digital Railway Programme will benefit passengers and freight operators by delivering additional capacity, improving performance, enhancing safety and reducing the costs of operating the national railway.
The FiC contract has been let by Porterbrook Leasing Company Limited (‘Porterbrook’) as the lead ROSCO for the Class 43 (supported by Angel Trains, Eversholt Rail and First Rail Holdings), under the NJRP.
Zena Dent, Product Development Director at Porterbrook said: “The installation of the ETCS on to these trains will be a major step forward in the national project to introduce in-cab signalling. Porterbrook are delighted to work with our partners to deliver this important project and support the rollout of the Digital Railway”
Shaun Jones, UK Vice-President, Transport, Thales, said:

“Onboard ETCS is an essential building block of the Digital Railway programme. It will improve our railway operators’ performance and reliability. The technology will also unlock capacity constraints that exist on the railway network which will benefit the travelling public.”

Click here to see Network Rail’s Digital Railway Strategy announced by Transport Secretary Chris Grayling and Network Rail Chief Executive Mark Carne.
Notes to editors
ETCS (European Train Control System) is a modern train protection system that ensures the safe transportation of passengers and goods. In an effort to harmonise the continent’s networks, ETCS has been the European standard since 1986. Today, ETCS is in service not only in Europe but also in many countries around the world.

ETCS was developed to promote interoperability across Europe but it is being rapidly adopted by operators worldwide, whether they have borders to cross or not.

  • More trains: ETCS can boost the capacity of existing networks by up to 40%
  • Reliability improvements: radio-based communications and reduced infrastructure means there’s less to go wrong
  • Open supply market: trackside and on-board equipment is produced by multiple suppliers in a competitive market place
  • Impact on life cycle cost: elimination of trackside equipment, including signals; means reduced maintenance costs 

About Thales
The people we all rely on to make the world go round – they rely on Thales. Our customers come to us with big ambitions: to make life better, to keep us safer. Combining a unique diversity of expertise, talents and cultures, our architects design and deliver extraordinary high technology solutions. Solutions that make tomorrow possible, today. From the bottom of the oceans to the depth of space and cyberspace, we help our customers think smarter and act faster - mastering ever greater complexity and every decisive moment along the way.With 65,000 employees in 56 countries, Thales reported sales of €15.8 billion in 2017.
About Porterbrook
Formed in 1994 Porterbrook is a ‘classic’ ROSCO, which means that we do more than just lease trains. As experts in Asset Management, Porterbrook prides itself on being innovators in both finance and technology. We are committed to being socially responsible corporate citizens of Britain’s railway.
In October 2014, the Porterbrook Group of companies was acquired by a consortium of investors including Alberta Investment Management Corporation (“AIMCo”), Allianz Capital Partners (“ACP”) on behalf of certain insurance companies of the Allianz Group, EDF Invest and Hastings Funds Management.
Porterbrook is looking to invest £1bn in UK rail over the next five years.

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