Half of all commuter trips now digitally signalled on rail route to City of London

More than half the trains Great Northern commuters take to Moorgate in the City of London are now controlled using ground-breaking digital signalling.

The European Train Control System (ETCS) does away with the need for signals at the side of the track. Instead, drivers are continually fed a safe target speed to aim for on a computer screen in their cab. This allows trains to run closer together and enables a more consistent and reliable service for passengers.


The first passenger train ran to the City of London using digital signalling technology in November 2023. Since then, Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) has been steadily training more of its Great Northern drivers to use the system.


Now, just over half of all journeys on the Northern City Line, between Finsbury Park and Moorgate, run in ETCS. This number is set to steadily increase as more Great Northern drivers are trained in the new technology, and journeys will become more reliable.


Oliver Turner, head of digital signalling (Head of ERTMS) at GTR, said: “We are delighted that our Great Northern commuters can now expect at least every other train to be digitally signalled.


“It represents a significant step towards a digital future in which technology will improve customer journeys on both the Northern City Line and, eventually, the East Coast Main Line. We are proud to share our knowledge and experience gained here with the rest of the rail industry.”


Introducing digital signalling on this busy commuter line is an important first step towards replacing regular signals with in-cab digital signalling on the southern part of the East Coast Mainline, between King’s Cross and Grantham. The first train ran using the system on a section of this mainline under test conditions two weeks ago (see press release UK-first sees digitally signalled train driven on intercity mainline).


It’s all part of the East Coast Digital Programme, which will see the first introduction of digital ETCS to an intercity mainline in Great Britain and provide the foundation for the future expansion of digital signalling across the UK rail network.


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