West Coast Main Line
Network Rail had carried out an ambitious modernisation programme using the latest in traffic technology over the WCML.
telent provide a communications system fit for Britain’s busiest railway route
The West Coast Main Line (WCML) is central to the provision of rail passenger services between London and the North, and represents a priority Trans-European freight route. Network Rail had carried out an ambitious modernisation programme using the latest in traffic technology over the line’s 2500km of track. But its continuing success would depend on state-of-the-art communications, and this is where we became involved.
About Network Rail
Since October 2002, Network Rail has owned and managed Britain’s rail infrastructure, including everything from track and signals to bridges and tunnels.
It is responsible for lines used to transport 2.75m passengers a day and over 22 billion tonnes of freight per year. So the company’s main focus is to ensure that the infrastructure is able to deliver a safe, reliable, efficient service. In addition to maintaining the rail network, the company is determined to modernise with the aim of transforming Britain’s railway into a ‘world class infrastructure.’
In the late 1990s, Network Rail launched the West Coast Route Modernisation (WCRM) programme. This was aimed at increasing train speed, shortening journey times and increasing capacity on this busy line.
It was the largest reconstruction project in Europe, covering more than 2,500km of track, 2,800 signals (including 13 major junctions) and 10,000 bridge spans.
In order to run more trains at higher speeds, safely, Network Rail needed a state-of-the-art rail communications system.
We designed a system that combined fixed and wireless infrastructure that was capable of providing reliable voice and data communications between train drivers, guards and signallers.
Though widely used in Europe, this was the first time GSM-R was to be deployed in the UK, helping to create a network that met Euro Rail Traffic Management System Level Three performance standards. It consisted of an independent GSM-R radio network with SDH data, switching nodes and optical fibre to connect the radio sites.
We also delivered 175 base station sites, a central switching and processing centre and signaller communications terminals. In addition, we took care of all the civil engineering required for the radio masts.
Through hard work and determination to identify innovative cost effective solutions for our customer, telent completed the project within budget and on time in December 2002.
Network Rail’s requirements were fully met. Our radio design now gives coverage along the entire route, including through station tunnels and cuttings, while functionality, performance and availability continue to exceed expectations.
This complex and highly-demanding five-year project has proved to be a show-case for telent’s substantial project management capabilities. It has also benefited from our track record in quality and safety as well as a highly skilled team of planners and engineers that gave Network Rail the bespoke rail communications system it required.
We continue to provide 24/7 support and maintenance on the line, and are also integrating further GSM-R infrastructure. Since then, we have been involved in the majority of Network Rail’s resignalling and renewals programmes, including the Watford to Bletchley, Norton Bridge, North Staffs, Nuneaton, Milton Keynes and Coventry lines.
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