Nippon Signal scoops Sao Paulo Metro deal

Nippon Signal is to supply Sao Paulo Metro Line 6 with signalling and train control equipment. The Japanese company will install its SPARCS Communications Based Train Control (CBTC) equipment on the 15km, six station route, which is expected to carry 630,000 passengers a day. No value was disclosed for the contract.

Nippon will also provide Automatic Train Supervision and electronic interlockings for the line. The company says it plans to ‘accelerate its overseas business expansion’ in Asia and South America in conjunction with industry partners.

Alstom/Thales win €330m HK CBTC deal

A consortium of Alstom and Thales has won a €330 million contract from MTR Corporation, Hong Kong, to resignal seven metro lines with Communications Based Train Control (CBTC) signalling.

The companies will provide Automatic Train Supervision, interlocking and Automatic Train Control in the control centre, trains and station. Thales’ SelTrac CBTC system will be installed, reflecting its role as technical lead in the partnership, while Alstom is responsible for project management and supply of remote trackside equipment controllers.

Siemens wins Dusseldorf signalling contract

Siemens is modernising the Dusseldorf Light Railway with new signalling and control systems.

Siemens is modernising the Dusseldorf Light Railway with new signalling and control systems.

Siemens is to equip Dusseldorf Light Railway with new signalling system to replace the life expired equipment the 11km system was built with.

The Trainguard ZUB 222 train protection system will allow semi automated operation with speed supervision of the driver’s manual acceleration and braking. It will be supervised by Controlguide Vicos OC operations control system, and the current relay interlockings are set to be replaced by electronic Trackguard Sicas ECC equivalents.

Installation work will be phased to limit service disruption, with completion scheduled for Autumn 2018.

Alstom scoops €100m Egyptian signalling deal

Alstom is to upgrade signalling on Egyptian National Railways’ 240km Beni Suef-Asyut line in a €100 million contract which includes a five-year maintenance element. Delivery will start in 2016 with completion of installation works due in January 2019.

Alstom will install Smartlock electronic interlockings to replace the existing electromechanical devices, in addition to trackside equipment, power supplies and telecommunications. The installation is expected to increase line capacity by more than 80%.

Egyptian National Railways plans to upgrade signalling across its network and improve safety to what Alstom describes as ‘international standards’.

California groundbreaking offers a new option for USA

The groundbreaking ceremony of California’s long planned high-speed railway from San Francisco to Los Angeles on January 6 marked a real milestone in rail travel in the United States, and it’s hard to think of any part of the industry that won’t benefit, including signalling.

The route has to be signalled with Positive Train Control – it’s the only interoperable technology in North America that can provide the Automatic Train Protection that high-speed rail needs – and it could just be that it provides a much needed fillip to the technology. It will also provide a much needed alternative to European Rail Traffic Management System, which is becoming a de facto standard for new high-speed railways all over the world.

So it’s all eyes on California’s high-speed dream. We wish them well in turning it into what we hope is a game changing reality.

Five New Year’s resolutions for the signalling industry

Having made our predictions about what might happen in 2015, it’s time to look at what we think the signalling industry should consider for the next year, in a traditional set of New Year’s resolutions. Here’s our top five:

  1. Look beyond European Rail Traffic Management System, Positive Train Control et al for development. Yes, standardisation and interoperability are vital, but restricting developments to these areas risks standardising thinking. Technology is always developing – how can it best be applied to signalling?
  2. Complete development of European Train Control System Level 3. It’s been discussed for years, it’s been trialled, yet deployment on a main line hasn’t happened. Moving block main line signalling will be a real game changer – so, as an industry, let’s resolve to bring the technology to deployable maturity.
  3. Integrate signalling and train control with other systems. The information provided by modern train control systems could be integrated with ticketing and passenger information systems much more effectively. If a train is running very late, why can’t passengers with advance tickets be alerted and, if there’s space on another more convenient train, be allowed to travel on it? The possibilities are vast, and this data integration could be another game changer.
  4. Reduce the barriers to entry of modern signalling technology. Signalling is a complex and safety critical area, but there are hundreds of thousands of kilometres of railway around the world which could benefit from the capacity and safety improvements modern systems can provide. The first company to significantly cut the costs of design, installation and maintenance of such technology will reap the rewards.
  5. Above all, continue to maintain the focus on safety. Rail’s safety record is, generally speaking, excellent, and much of that is down to the dedication, ability and effort of signalling designers, installers and operators. Let’s aim to make 2015 an even better year for rail safety than 2014.

Those are the areas we think the railway should focus on this year, but what do you think? Let us know via the comments form. And on behalf of everyone involved in, we wish all of our readers a happy and prosperous 2015.

Good year or bad year? Here’s our 2015 signalling predictions…

As 2014 draws to a close, it’s that traditional time to make some predictions about what developments the signalling sector might see in 2015. 2014 has seen major projects completed and others move closer to fruition. European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) and Communications Based Train Control (CBTC) have continued to expand their capabilities and geographical coverage, and in cities and countries around the world rail is increasingly seen as a vital aspect of transportation networks. So, what does think will happen in 2015? Here’s our top five predictions:

Our fifth and light-hearted prediction: technology to allow legacy steam traction to run under ETCS will be developed in the UK or Germany. Credit: Andrew Roden.

Our fifth and light-hearted prediction: technology to allow legacy steam traction to run under ETCS will be developed in the UK or Germany. Credit: Andrew Roden.


  1. ERTMS Level 3 will be announced for a major main line resignalling project in Europe in the hope that by the time work is ready to start issues about end of train detection and other issues have been resolved.
  2. Consolidation in the signalling sector will continue with the acquisition of Ansaldo STS but Chinese suppliers will increase their presence – as will Hitachi Rail, which will win a major European contract.
  3. Positive Train Control will remain contentious in the United States, with railroads continuing to complain about costs. However, its installation will prevent an accident that would have otherwise occurred, leading to renewed faith in the technology…
  4. However, elsewhere a major accident will be caused by a contractor (probably not involved in the signalling sector) inadvertently interfering with crucial lineside signalling equipment, bringing into focus the interfaces between track authority, train operators, and maintenance staff.*
  5. And finally, a bit of fun: in Germany or the United Kingdom technology will be developed to allow legacy steam locomotives to run under European Train Control System (ETCS) signalling.

Those are our top five predictions, but what are yours? Let us know via the comments form…

*This is a prediction we hope we get wrong.

Chinese bid for Ansaldo STS

Ansaldo STS could be acquired by a Chinese joint venture of Insigma Group and Xinzhu Corporation, and parent company Finmeccanica has confirmed a bid by Insigma for AnsaldoBreda.

Finmeccanica has long planned to sell the Italian operations to reduce debt levels, and some reports suggest the signalling division could also be included in the sale. If so it would give the Chinese companies a foothold in the growing European signalling market – especially the lucrative mass transit and European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) sectors.

Network Rail ponders Automatic Train Operation extension

British track authority Network Rail is considering installing Automatic Train Operation under European Train Control System (ETCS) Level 3 signalling on one of its busiest routes. The possibility is contained in the Wessex Route Study, which is undergoing consultation.

Network Rail's Wessex Route Study asks whether ATO under ETCS is a viable solution on one of its busiest routes.

Network Rail’s Wessex Route Study asks whether ATO under ETCS is a viable solution on one of its busiest routes.

The Surbiton to London Waterloo section of the Wessex Main Line, which serves a large commuter area and cities including Southampton, is operated more densely at peak times than any other route in the United Kingdom and to meet predicted demand by 2043 37 train paths per hour are needed.

While conventional capacity enhancements such as grade separation of junctions and additional tracks are being considered, Network Rail argues that installation of ETCS and ATO are likely to ‘have a significant positive impact on capacity in the inner area’ and could help boost the number of train paths to 34 per hour at peak times. It plans to study the implications of accelerating its ETCS programme to cover the route from London Waterloo to Woking, a key junction on the main line as a matter of priority.

Network Rail is already pioneering the use of Automatic Train Operation with ETCS in the short central section of the Thameslink route, which will provide a north-south link across London, in a bid to provide reliable operation and sufficient capacity.

Algerian JV scores double-tracking contract

A joint venture of Algerian National Railways (SNTF) and Siemens – ESTEL RA – has won a €95 million contract to upgrade the 90km Beni Mansour to Bejaia line with double track and European Train Control System Level 1 signalling.

Siemens will supply its Trainguard 100 train protection system, Vicos automatic operations control system, nine Simis W electronic interlockings, GSM-R radio and RailCom Manager communications management system. Siemens will also provide equipment for a control centre in Bejaia and training for Algerian Railways staff.

Siemens has provided ETCS for Algeria in the past, as well as Line 1 of the Algiers Metro.