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Friday 12 Feb 2010

Wales & West

 Network Rail ERTMS train driver simulator

A major Network Rail scheme to improve the Cambrian line with one of the world’s most advanced signalling technologies moves a step closer to completion today.

For the first time, the new European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) will be fully tested on a live railway between Pwllheli and Harlech on 13 – 17 February using Arriva Trains Wales’ ERTMS-fitted class 158 passenger train fleet.

The Cambrian line in mid-Wales is the testbed for ERTMS in Britain and once the scheme is completed; it will become the first railway in the country to benefit from this new technology.

The test run is vital to determine the readiness of this new system before it is introduced in phases on the Cambrian line and subsequently across Britain to bring a more reliable railway, as well as the prospect of more trains to passengers.

In addition, the success of the exercise will see seven Arriva Trains Wales drivers become the first in the country qualified to operate ERTMS-equipped passenger trains. 

Three signallers from Network Rail with their new skills in ERTMS will also be pioneering the use of the new system to manage train movements from the new signalling centre at Machynlleth.

Rob Carr, senior programme manager, Network Rail said: “ERTMS is the next frontier for Britain's railway; it will significantly improve reliability and capacity on the network.  We have carried out a series of tests on the separate elements of the system but this exercise is the ‘full-dress rehearsal’ and a vital milestone for this programme.  The test-drive will give this system a thorough and stringent health-check before we launch it in stages on the Cambrian line and we hope to commission the first phase on Pwllheli – Harlech by Spring this year.” 

Peter Leppard, director of operations and safety, Arriva Trains Wales said “This is a ground breaking project and we are proud to be delivering the first trial section of ERTMS on the British rail network.”

Key facts -

-         16 out of a total of 24 passenger trains have been fitted with ERTMS

-         3 special Network Rail locomotives have been fitted with ERTMS

-          215km of track is now fitted with ERTMS equipment including
           * 96 axle counters (a device that detects the passing of trains)
           * 346 eurobalise (an electronic transmitter)

-         1 brand new signalling control centre built at Machynlleth, with two brand new digitised signalling panels equipped with ERTMS

With ERTMS, the speed of train movement is continuously supervised and if the actual train speed exceeds the permitted speed, brakes will be applied automatically to stop trains before the danger point.  In addition, ERTMS also enables train drivers to exchange real-time information, via robust radio frequency, with signallers, so that communication of train movements is continuous. 

ERTMS is a proven and tested signalling standard that has been adopted by countries including France, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany and Italy and is also rapidly being adopted by other countries around the world.  In Europe, it is designed to replace the existing systems to create an interoperable cross-border railway, encouraging more opportunities for international freight and passenger travel by rail.

Trains between Pwllheli – Barmouth will be replaced with alternative services on 13 – 17 February for this exercise.  Passengers are advised to check the changes before they embark on their journey by contacting Arriva Trains Wales or the National Rail Enquiries. 

Ansaldo STS UK Ltd is the main contractor for this scheme.

Notes to editors

On the Cambrian line Network Rail and industry partners plan to implement level 2 of the ERTMS system.  The new system will replace the current RETB (Radio Electronic Token Block) signalling system on the 215km Cambrian route from Shrewsbury to Aberystwyth and Pwllheli. This route was chosen because it is a self-contained part of the network and RETB is approaching the end of its economic life.

For more background information on ERTMS, log on to

Contact information

Mavis Choong
Mavis Choong
Job Title
Network Rail
01793 389749
07515 620384
About Network Rail
Network Rail owns, manages and develops Britain’s railway – the 20,000 miles of track, 40,000 bridges and viaducts, and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations (the largest of which we also run). In partnership with train operators we help people take more than 1.6bn journeys by rail every year - double the number of 1996 - and move hundreds of millions of tonnes of freight, saving almost 8m lorry journeys. We’re investing £38bn in the railway by 2019 to deliver more frequent, more reliable, safer services and brighter and better stations.

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