Page 5: Joint venture
The West Coast Main Line project to build and maintain trains is a joint venture between ALSTOM and Fiat Ferroviaria. The mission is to provide Virgin, every day and on time, with a set of new, reliable trains to meet the timetabled need. To achieve this mission, the partnership takes responsibility for five key areas
- a new fleet of high speed tilting trains
- a delivery programme
- maintenance and customer support
- performance guarantees
- safety case and vehicle acceptance.
The belief is that the total package will not only ensure the delivery to Virgin (and its customers) of high quality trains, at the right place and the right time, but also with the right level of service provision.
The signalling challenge
High speed trains demand high safety standards. Passengers need to have the reassurance that signalling will incorporate fail-safe measures that can override any human error. The European Commission has introduced important common standards across European railways through funding of European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) projects to help perfect a uniform signalling system.
The contract for the Train Control System for the West Coast Main Line, based on work with ERTMS, established ALSTOM as the clear leader in this field. Added to the challenge is the fact that the WCML is a high density railway which will carry traffic ranging from freight and commuter trains to Virgin’s 225 km/h tilting fleet. The project uses state-of-the- art transmission-based signalling technology and will be Europe’s biggest-ever signalling contract. Each train journey will be pre-programmed into the management centre computers, indicating priority starting times, speed restrictions and station stops to maximise capacity on the route. Dedicated digital telecommunications links and electronic controls keep the route’s management centres in touch with trains via lineside radio stations. The system will keep drivers and the network controllers in constant touch - ensuring fewer delays for passengers.
In its winning bid, ALSTOM was also supported by Siemens and Alcatel of Germany. Siemens in the United Kingdom has the experience of the switching technology for the digital radio, which provides the link between the signalling equipment and the train cab, and Alcatel is a specialist in odometry - the precise measurement of the distance a train has travelled since the last reference point.