5 trains speed past 5 'stop signals' in 5 months; Problems on route with pounds 60m system.
A NEW pounds 60m railway signalling system launched just five months ago has caused serious problems for a train company, a senior official revealed.
There have been five serious incidents of trains passing "signals" at danger on the Cambrian Coast line, and train performance was poor, says Arriva Trains Wales (ATW) operations director Peter Leppard.
It comes just five months after the ERTMS (European Rail Traffic Management System) system was introduced. The system uses computers in train cabs to advise drivers instead of relying on trackside signals. Installing ERTMS cost pounds 60m and replaces RETB, an older, radio-based system, on the line, and allows more trains to run.
Speaking at a conference in Copenhagen in May Mr Leppard said the system was introduced between Harlech and Pwllheli last November and extended to the rest of the line to Machynlleth, Aberystwyth and Shrewsbury in March.
He said ATW expect 95% of trains to be less than five minutes late.
"But ERTMS faults mean we are achieving only 62% and that there have been 'five Category 'A' SPADs (signals passed at danger] in the first five months."
Mr Leppard did not outline details of these incidents but the Rail Accident Investigation Branch are probing an incident at a level crossing near Aberystwyth last month in which a train ran through the crossing with the barriers still raised. No pedestrians or vehicles were on the crossing at the time.
He added installing the equipment in 20-year-old Class 158 units has been "problematical" with very little space available in the cab to position the driver''s screen which can be ''washed out' by sunlight, but too bright at night.
There have also been problems with the extra equipment now required on and around the track and there are various things which can "confuse" the software in the central control room.
In conclusion, Mr Leppard said: "Realisation that a single-line railway was perhaps not the best place to conduct a trial. Our very simple railway has been converted to something much more complex."
Mr Leppard told the Daily Post the situation is improving and that ATW officials and Network rail hold regular meetings to discuss Cambrian line performance.
A Network Rail spokeswoman added: "We have carried out a number of system changes and have both on-train and infrastructure software changes agreed to be completed in October 2011. Things continue on an upward trend, with last week seeing the lowest number of delay minutes and performance failures since the system went live."
First put forward in 2003 the system's launch last year was postponed after drivers complained the glare of the sun meant they couldn't see the computer screen in front of them. In November, Network Rail said the glare problems had been ironed out.
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|Publication:||Daily Post (Liverpool, England)|
|Date:||Jul 18, 2011|
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