First-in-class fitment of ETCS now underway on DB Class 66 locomotive

First-in-class 66

Article: First-in-class fitment of ETCS now underway on DB Class 66 locomotive

Work has begun to install the latest version of the European Train Control System (ETCS) to a UK freight locomotive, marking the beginning of fitment to freight vehicles in the UK as part of the East Coast Digital Programme.

After several years of design and planning, DB Cargo UK’s Class 66 locomotive (66039) has now been delivered to Electro-Motive Diesel’s engineering workshop in Doncaster where the technological transformation will take place.

The ‘first-in-class’ fitment will take around six months to complete and is a significant milestone in the roll-out of the new European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) in the rail freight sector. It will create the blueprint for the roll-out to the largest class of locomotives – the Class 66.

The roll-out is being coordinated by the East Coast Digital Programme, a cross-industry partnership led by Network Rail which is managing the introduction of ERTMS on the East Coast Main Line and is setting the path for the Long Term Deployment Plan (LTDP) of future roll-outs of the system.

Earlier this year, the Government announced an additional £1 billion of funding to facilitate the first phase of ERTMS on a 100-mile stretch of the East Coast Main Line from London Kings Cross to just south of Grantham.

DB Cargo UK’s Chief Transformation and Digitalisation Officer Marie Hill said the company was proud to see years of hard work and dedication by its operations, engineering and technical staff finally come to fruition.

“DB Cargo UK, working in close partnership with our colleagues at Siemens Mobility and Network Rail, is delighted to be playing a pioneering role in the roll-out of ERTMS and ETCS which will use digital technology to create a more dynamic, more reliable, and more flexible railway here in the UK.

“Increased digitalisation and automation of our assets and processes will ensure we can continue to deliver, fast, efficient, reliable services fit for the 21st century and beyond. That’s what our customers expect and that is what ERTMS will help us to deliver,” she added.

DB Cargo UK, the UK’s largest rail logistics provider, was chosen to be the first freight operator to install ETCS on its Class 66, 67, 60 and 325 fleets.

Marie said that as well as leading on the first-in-class fitment programme, the company was also introducing a whole new set of operational and business processes to support the switch to digital signalling.

Ed Akers, Network Rail’s Principal Programme Sponsor for the East Coast Digital Programme said: “Commencing the installation of ETCS on this freight locomotive marks a significant milestone on the East Coast Digital Programme and brings us closer to creating a more dynamic and reliable railway for all those using the East Coast Main Line.

“A lot of hard work has gone into getting us to this point, so I’d like recognise and thank those involved for their dedication.”

Ian Macleod, Siemens Mobility’s Project Director, said: “This first installation is a key milestone marking the first of over 700 locomotives to be fitted. We are proud to be working together with Network Rail and DB Cargo preparing the first vehicle for its testing and operation in 2023.”


Notes to Editors:

There are currently freight vehicles fitted with ETCS on the Cambrian Main Line. These are fitted with an earlier version of ETCS. Version 3.6.0 is the modern standard, the older version cannot operate on ECML.