New digital signalling to give rail passengers better journeys on Great Northern’s route to City of London
- Credit: Peter Alvey / Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR).
Rail passengers in Hertfordshire are set to benefit from better signalling on Great Northern’s route to City of London.
A new, state-of-the-art signalling system has been commissioned, promising Great Northern rail passengers at 30 stations much more reliable journeys on the route to Moorgate.
Passengers will benefit on services to and from London Moorgate from Hertfordshire stations at Stevenage, Watton-at-Stone, Hertford North, Bayford, Cuffley, Welwyn Garden City, Hatfield, Welham Green, Brookmans Park and Potters Bar.
The digital equipment replaces outdated and ageing components dating back to the 1970s, including some that ran on compressed air, on the Northern City Line between Finsbury Park and Moorgate stations.
After a bedding-in period, it is expected to significantly reduce the amount of delays a year caused by signal failures that have disrupted commuters and leisure travellers.
The work has been carried out as part of the Government-funded East Coast Digital Programme.
Thameslink and Great Northern managing director Tom Moran said: “The signalling on the Northern Line was a tried and tested, safe system but it had reached the end of its life and often failed, causing regular disruption.
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"Our customers would often find their services cancelled, delayed or diverted into King’s Cross, a long way from where they wanted to go.
“This work by Network Rail, as part of the Government-funded East Coast Digital Programme, has brought the route firmly into the 21st century and should, after a bedding in period, greatly improve reliability.”
The work will ultimately see traditional signals removed from the tracks along this route.
Drivers will instead be digitally signalled through screens inside their train cabs, once the system testing and driver training period is complete.
This change will further boost reliability and reduce delays.
The Northern City Line is expected to operate solely using digital signalling by 2024.
Toufic Machnouk, Network Rail’s director, Industry Partnership for Digital Railway, said: “This commissioning will deliver improved reliability for passengers and marks an important step forward in the wider East Coast Digital Programme that will transform the capability of a major intercity route.
“The deep partnership we have forged for the Northern City Line project is breaking the traditional boundaries in the way we work as an industry to deliver greater benefits for passengers.”
Mark Ferrer, Siemens Mobility Limited's rail infrastructure operations director, added: “This commissioning marks the start of a roll-out of modern train control technology that provides a far more efficient and reliable railway.
“The partnership on the programme has enabled the train control partner to collaborate with other industry partners to efficiently define and develop the agreed scope and design to be able to deliver the engineering that led to the successful commissioning of this digital system.”
- Passengers from the following 30 Hertforshire and London stations will benefit: Stevenage, Watton-at-Stone, Hertford North, Bayford, Cuffley, Crews Hill, Gordon Hill, Enfield Chase, Grange Park, Winchmore Hill, Palmers Green, Bowes Park, Welwyn Garden City, Hatfield, Welham Green, Brookmans Park, Potters Bar, Hadley Wood, New Barnet, Oakleigh Park, New Southgate, Alexandra Palace, Hornsey, Harringey, Finsbury Park, Drayton Park, Highbury & Islington, Essex Road, Old Street and Moorgate.
More commuter services on Great Northern and Thameslink in summer timetable change
Great Northern will be running more weekday trains in its summer 2022 timetable between Stevenage/Welwyn Garden City and Moorgate.
Five trains per hour will run on each branch at busy times, combining to provide up to 10 trains per hour between Moorgate and Alexandra Palace.
At quieter times, two trains will run on each branch per hour.
Targeted mostly at supporting commuters returning to the workplace, customers are advised to check ahead at nationalrail.co.uk as train times will change from Sunday, May 15.
There will also be new half-hourly peak Thameslink services that cross central London from Welwyn Garden City to St Pancras International and beyond to Sevenoaks.
The two additional peak services per hour will run between Welwyn Garden City and Sevenoaks, providing additional services at Hatfield, Potters Bar, New Barnet, Oakleigh Park, New Southgate, Finsbury Park and additional cross-London connectivity between St Pancras International and London Blackfriars.
This change is introduced by extending existing Sevenoaks to London Blackfriars services through to Welwyn Garden City during peak hours.
The Thameslink stopping service via Potters Bar between London King’s Cross and Cambridge will increase to provide two trains per hour across the entire route.
This means that services at Meldreth, Foxton and Shepreth will increase from one to two departures per hour, as well as providing additional services between Royston and Cambridge.
Angie Doll, chief operating officer of Govia Thameslink Railway, which runs the services, said: “The new timetable from Sunday, May 15 is the starting point for rebuilding our railway, to help our customers get where they want to go while reflecting new travel patterns which have changed significantly, particularly on weekdays.
“Our priority is to support passengers by running reliable services, working closely with our stakeholders to support the economic recovery of both local and regional rail.”