Some of the busiest UK commuter lines will be able to decrease intervals between trains with a new traffic management system to be delivered by Hitachi Rail Europe.
The system will enable 24 trains per hour to run reliably through central London in each direction by 2018, thus improving north-south travel through the busy capital.
The technology will be used as part of the Thameslink programme and was described as a ‘step change’ in rail traffic management.
“Providing a frequent and reliable service through the heart of the city to a host of new destinations will only be possible thanks to this technology,” said Simon Blanchflower, Thameslink programme director, who signed the £24m contract with Hitachi Rail Europe and Network Rail today.
“Traffic management technology will provide extra guidance to our signallers and work with in-cab signalling and automatic train operation to deliver 24 trains per hour between London Blackfriars and St Pancras International.”
The technology was also said to improve the time it takes the railway to recover from delays and deliver real-time customer information.
“Today’s announcement isn’t just about new technology, it’s a key way to improve customer journeys, by increasing reliability and making sure they have the right information at the right time,” Rail Minister Claire Perry commented. “We have seen huge growth in the number of people travelling by train and this investment will play a key role in keeping those customers moving safely, reliably and comfortably.”
Network Rail’s core Thameslink contract with Hitachi Rail Europe covers a distance equal to 20 minutes’ travel time on either end of the central section between Blackfriars and St Pancras International.
In addition, the contract includes options to expand the scope to cover the whole of the Brighton Main Line and part of the East Coast Main Line.
The traffic management system relies on sophisticated software and hardware to provide assistance to signallers and controllers to help improve efficiency and reliability.
By monitoring the trains’ positions in real time, it can predict their future location at every given moment allowing signallers to make informed decisions to ensure the trains arrive in the right place at the right time.