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The Essex Thameside Capacity Study was commissioned by Network Rail and developed in partnership with all key regional stakeholders including train operator Trenitalia c2c, the Department for Transport (DfT), Transport for London (TfL), Essex County Council and the Association of South Essex Local Authorities.
The study predicts the growth in rail passenger demand for the Essex Thameside corridor over the next 30 years, and sets out how that growth could be accommodated to avoid severe overcrowding. It considered all options: running more trains on the same track by installing digital in-cab signalling in place of the traditional trackside signals, which now are a constraint on being able to run extra peak trains; removing seats in trains to increase standing capacity; and running the same services as today but with longer trains, requiring significant spend on existing signalling and expansion of stations.
The study recognises how in-cab digital signalling could allow a crucial increase in train services (from 20 trains per hour in the peak, to 24 trains), and would deliver more capacity earlier. That extra capacity could be delivered without the need to reduce seats or increase standing, and wouldn’t need significant disruptive engineering work. Importantly it would allow c2c to maintain today’s high level of punctuality – consistently one of the highest in the country. The study drew extensively on the expertise of Trenitalia’s digital signalling teams, and Trenitalia looks forward to championing this project to give c2c’s customers the extra services and capacity they need as the region grows. To do its work, Trenitalia used the experience of its parent group, Ferrovie Dello Stato, which now operates trains over nearly 1,000Km of track using the same in-cab digital signalling – and in particular, the engineering consultancy of sister company, Italferr.
Ernesto Sicilia, Managing Director of Trenitalia UK, said: “We are thrilled that our expertise as train operator of c2c, supplemented with engineering excellence of the entire Ferrovie dello Stato Group, has combined to produce such a strong solution to the challenges faced by the Essex Thameside area. Since our arrival in the UK market, we have been focused on delivering innovative solutions to our customers and to all stakeholders in the rail sector. The implementation of our digital ticketing platform PICO4UK in 2019, the guarantee of high-quality punctual customer service with c2c and our skilful competence in the HS2 tender have been unanimously recognised by the market. Our commitment to the study has been another example of the strategic significance of the UK market and our aim to deliver quality, safety, and punctuality to all our customers. Our focus on customers remains a priority whilst bringing the extensive experience of Ferrovie dello Stato Group to the UK market.”
Kate Willard, Chair of the Thames Estuary Growth Board, said: “We welcome the conclusions of this study and Trenitalia c2c’s bold plans for expanding capacity on the Essex Thameside rail network to make it fit for the next 30 years. Their project for state of the art digital signalling would bring more frequent services, an all-night railway and more capacity to carry all the extra people living in our new Thames Estuary communities of Essex and East London. It is the right solution at the right time. They are in a good place.”
This article first appeared on www.globalrailwayreview.com
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