Network Rail – NCL/ECML ETCS Digital Railway Upgrade

Munir Patel - XRAIL Group

Home » Network Rail – NCL/ECML ETCS Digital Railway Upgrade

Published: 22nd March 2022

This Case Study was Written by: Munir Patel - XRAIL Group

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  Network Rail   2017 - 2019
  Network Rail
  2017 - 2019

The Challenge for XRAIL

XRAIL were successfully appointed by Network Rail (NR) as technical experts for the East Coast Main line (ECML) and associated Northern City Line (NCL) ETCS Upgrade Tender Review.

Part of Network rails plans for upgrades on their infrastructure is to introduce the Digital Railway programme to upgrade the railway with Digital technology. A critical part of this upgrade programme is the introduction of ETCS Level 2 Signalling across the network.

The plan is to upgrade the NCL Line to ETCS first and then rolled out to the rest of ECML. To facilitate this NR issued a tender for suppliers to submit their proposals for the works.

XRAIL were specifically tasked with evaluating key tender documents submitted by the bidders. The areas to be evaluated are:

  • Design and Build Phase Approach
  • Implementation Plan and Strategy
  • Design Strategy for ETCS
  • Testing and Commissioning Strategy
  • Review of Performance, Reliability, Availability, Maintainability and Safety (PRAMS) Analysis
  • Review of the Scheme sketch highlighting the transition boundaries and detailed plan showing the modifications required
  • Review of the system architecture submission showing the proposal of the construct of architecture for ETCS for NCL and ECML

The evaluation exercise and scoring is to be based solely on the capability of the supplier to introduce the ETCS Level 2 signalling system to the NR infrastructure.

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The Result

XRAIL’s evaluation of the critical tender documents from each prospective supplier was accepted by NR and the tender process resulted in the appointment of a competent supplier to deliver ECTS on the NCL and ECML.

The initial evaluation undertaken by XRAIL was the evaluation each of the submitted proposals for the feasibility of the introduction of ETCS signalling system on the NCL using the existing NCL data as the base.

A detailed technical revaluation was undertaken and included:

  • A review of the existing capacity and whether the enhance capacity would be met by the introduction of ETCS
  • Review the current signalling arrangements at Moorgate terminal station to gauge the requirements under ETCS control
  • A review of the methodology to introduce the ETCS on the NCL identifying the optimal transition boundaries required to switch from existing to ETCS signalling
  • A changeover methodology to facilitate switch over between systems to facilitate testing and driver training
  • Assurance strategy and approvals required to introduce and commission the ETCS signalling system
  • The system architecture required for the NCL
  • A review of the timings to switch from ETCS to conventional and gauge its impact
  • Required positions of Eurobalise and positions required under ETCS operation
  • Programme of works required to facilitate the installation, testing and commissioning
  • Estimation of the possessions/closures to facilitate the introduction of ETCS
  • The methodology of the migration strategy to facilitate Driver training for the new ETC signalling
  • A concept of Operations document to highlight the initial operational arrangements for the NCL
  • Review of the reference design pertaining to ETCS

A similar exercise was undertaken for the ECML which also included:

  • Identifying the pinch points on the ECML that would require additional works
  • Proposed solutions for the pinch points
  • Identifying suitable Stageworks boundaries to facilitate the introduction of ETCS systematically and incrementally to the whole line

To facilitate the tender a suite of documents was generated to form a robust basis for the evaluation to be assessed against. This included:

  • Concept of Operations docs for the NCL and ECML
  • Review of the Call off contract for the ECML
  • Review of the Call off contract for the NCL branch which required
  • An overall improvement in system safety. This will be for example by reducing failures of signalling equipment and reducing on-track and lineside maintenance requirements.
  • Improved safe by design as the project progresses.
  • A reduction in lineside asset maintenance is a priority, therefore the solution must offer a low whole life cost (WLC).
  • Elimination of all pneumatic driven point equipment
  • Improvement in RAMS and MBTSAF
  • Alterations to Signallers workstations to suit the upgrade in signalling technology in an efficient manner which takes cognise of business change (in liaison with the RSIP).
  • Renewal is delivered efficiently and effectively reducing the requirements for on-track testing.

XRAIL was able to develop this approach from its successfully experience gained in the delivery of the upgrade to the Jubilee Line under the Jubilee Northern Upgrade Programme (JNUP) with the introduction of a modern TBTC/CTBC signalling system.

This project experience gave XRAIL significant experience in the migration from traditional to modern digital safety critical systems in terms of design, install, test, commission and maintenance, whilst maintaining safe railway operations.

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