Class 717 ETCS L2 Authorisation, Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), London, UK

Network Rail is progressing a scheme to progressively implement the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) on the East Coast Main Line (ECML) between Peterborough and Kings Cross in the UK. This work is part of the government-funded East Coast Digital Programme (ECDP). 

The first tranche of this project sees the replacement of the life expired conventional signalling assets on the Northern City Line (NCL) between Drayton Park and Moorgate with a Level 2 European Train Control System (ETCS) Baseline 2.3.0d system. GTR is the Railway Undertaking for the NCL and operates a fleet of Class 717 trains. They have been in passenger service since 2018, but with conventional signalling. As a result of the introduction of ETCS GTR needed to gain authorisation from the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) to operate the Class 717 trains in ETCS Level 2.

What we did

Authorisation Strategy

We produced an Authorisation Strategy, the scope of the strategy included:

  • Compliance – validation that the design of the train’s ETCS complies with the relevant standards and has been produced in accordance with the relevant Quality Management System
  • Safe Integration – validation that the design and operation of the trains can be safely integrated into the railway; and
  • Compatibility – an assessment of the technical compatibility of the trains with the relevant infrastructure.

Consultation with the ORR

We held regular reviews with the ORR to discuss the Authorisation Strategy, emerging issues, and the path to resolving these issues.

ETCS System Compatibility (ESC) Checks

It is a requirement of the UK’s National Technical Specification Notice (NTSN) that checks are conducted between the train and trackside.  Network Rail produces an ESC specification for these checks; we worked with GTR to design the necessary testing programme and complete the analysis required to demonstrate the successful completion of the ESC checks.

Production of Technical File, draft certificates and letters for GTR to submit to the ORR

Since GTR was the applicant for Authorisation it had to produce a Technical File, draft certificates and submission letter.  We produced all of this on behalf of GTR.

Standards compliance

Since the Class 717 fleet entered service in 2018, some UK Notified Technical Rules had changed.  We prepared compliance evidence that, where possible, demonstrated that the trains complied with the latest revision of the rules.  Where it was not possible to demonstrate compliance with the latest revision, we prepared and manged to a successful conclusion the necessary deviation applications to the UK’s Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) on behalf of GTR.

Approval Body (ApBo) Design Body (DeBo)

GTR appointed an ApBo/DeBo as part of the Authorisation.  We supported GTR in the procurement process and subsequently managed the interaction with these bodies on behalf of GTR to obtain the necessary updated certification for the trains.

Outcome and Benefit

The Class 717 fleet was granted Authorisation for Levels 0, 1 and 2
GTR received authorisation from the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) to place its Class 717 fleet into passenger service using ETCS Level 2.  This is a key step towards the introduction of digital signalling on both the NCL and ECML.

The trains will begin running in passenger service once Network Rail has completed its approval works to switch on the trackside ETCS system.  When this is achieved, GTR will start training, in passenger service, two hundred and fifty of its Great Northern drivers to drive using ETCS.

“Achieving authorisation to place our Class 717s into passenger service using ETCS Level 2 is significant, both for us as an operator and the overall programme – it’s the first train to achieve this for digital signalling as part of the East Coast Digital Programme.  The Taylor Airey team was the right choice for GTR – the team fully understand us and what we want to achieve.  Their pragmatic approach to navigating the complexity of ETCS approvals and authorisation, coupled with their positive attitude, ensured the successful, on time, conclusion of this part of the programme.  I look forward to continuing to work with them to deliver the overall programme.”

Oly Turner, Head of ERTMS, Govia Thameslink Railway

Services we offered

Taylor Airey provided the following services to GTR:

  • Production and implementation of ETCS Authorisation strategy
  • ORR consultation
  • Preparation of technical file and draft certificates
  • Standard compliance reviews
  • ApBo/DeBo appointment and liaison
  • ESC check preparation and analysis
Govia Thameslink Railway
Govia Thameslink Railway