Photo: Hitachi.

One of the new Intercity Express Programme (IEP) trains has started testing its digital signalling system on Network Rail’s infrastructure.

Train 800 002, a five-car bi-modal (diesel and electric) IEP train destined for the Great Western Railway, has arrived at Network Rail’s ERTMS National Integration Facility (ENIF) at Hitchin.

Hitachi’s ETCS Baseline 2 digital signalling has already been approved for use. However, the new trains are fitted with a more advanced Baseline 3 system. This has to be tested for compatibility with Baseline 2 trackside equipment, manufactured by another supplier, before it can obtain regulatory approval.

European Train Control System (ETCS) signalling systems are designed to conform to a common specification, so that systems from different manufacturers can be used interchangeably. The European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) combines ETCS with radio communication using GSM-R and brings signalling into the driver’s cab, allowing trains to run more frequently and closer together.

This compatibility between manufacturers, and of Baseline 3 equipment with earlier Baseline 2 products, needs to be tested and certified, hence the involvement of the ENIF.

The new trains are due to enter passenger service with GWR on the Great Western main line from 2017 and with Virgin Trains on the East Coast main line out of King’s Cross in 2018.


  1. The train did not go to Hitchin. The test took place centred around Watton at Stone between Hertford North and Stevenage. This is the dedicated test track for ERTMS testing.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here