Wednesday, 17 September 2014
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Signal changes for Piccadilly line

Tube Lines has awarded a £160m extension to the contract it has with Thales’s rail signalling business to provide a new signalling system on the Piccadilly line by 2014.

Tube Lines has awarded a £160m extension to the contract it has with Thales’s rail signalling solutions business to provide a new signalling system on the Piccadilly line by 2014.

The new system will use information technology similar to that in place on the Docklands Light Railway to enable trains to safely run faster and more frequently. Together with a new fleet of trains, Thales says it will result in a 20 per cent increase in capacity and vastly improved reliability.

Thales is already working with Tube Lines on new signalling systems for the Jubilee and Northern lines for delivery in 2009 and 2011 respectively. Testing is underway and work takes place every night to ready the infrastructure for the changeover. Cables are already being laid on the Jubilee line to communicate information on the exact location of each train and rolling stock is being fitted with the new equipment.

The system Tube Lines has ordered for the Piccadilly line is the same as the one being introduced on the Jubilee and Northern lines. The Thales system, Seltrac, has been developed and implemented successfully in many cities throughout the world over the past 18 years, including Vancouver, Kuala Lumpur and Hong Kong. A joint team of signalling engineers from Tube Lines and Thales is adapting Seltrac to cope in the challenging conditions which exist on London’s century old Underground.

Parts of the existing signalling system are over 40 years old on the Piccadilly line, which celebrated its one hundredth anniversary in December 2006. Although the existing signalling system makes use of computers, it relies heavily on mechanical and electrical components which are difficult to maintain and operate reliably.

Seltrac uses computers fitted to each train which interact with an induction loop between the tracks, showing the train’s location within centimetres. The computer relays this information to a control centre, which responds with messages telling the train how fast to go in order to maintain the most efficient speed and a safe distance from the train ahead.

Tube Lines will soon be initiating the process to design and build a whole new fleet of trains for the Piccadilly line.


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