On track with testing of the new digital signalling system

For the first time Bane NOR tested the newly retrofitted test train, on the test line between Hønefoss og Roa as well as Bane NOR’s own test lab “Campus Nyland”.

The first test train running on the test line. Photo: Ingvald Ramsrud

The railway is going from being mechanical and manual to highly technical and digital through the implementation of the new signalling system. The renewal of the signalling equipment is one of Norway’s largest digitalisation projects, and Nordlandsbanen between Grong and Bodø will be the first line with the new system on October 31st, 2022. With this, Norway is on the forefront with new railway technology.

A prerequisite for implementing ERTMS is that the three suppliers’ components and systems (Alstom’s onboard equipment, Siemens’ signalling system, and Thales’ traffic management system) can communicate with each other.

«We must, together with the suppliers, complete a variety of tests to ensure that everything works as it should, and to reveal any errors or omissions before it is installed on the entire Norwegian railway. Now we are underway with testing on what we call the «test line» between Hønefoss and Roa” says Sverre Kjenne, Chief Operational Officer in Bane NOR.

Testing from the new test lab

Bane NOR has hired train drivers from the train operator Vy to drive the test train. At Campus Nyland, which is the new test lab and competence centre for the implementation of the new digital signalling system ERTMS, there will be a lot of activity in the future, including simulated tests.

“Campus Nyland is the activity centre of the digitalisation of the Norwegian rail, and central to the development of a future-oriented infrastructure that is more punctual, secure, environmentally friendly, and more cost effective to maintain. We are now moving into an exciting phase of testing, and so far it looks very promising,” says Kjenne.

In hard weather

The components for the new signalling system have already been tested in Norway’s hardest climate for over 12 months, at Haugastøl, Røros, Bodø, and Romeriksporten.

«In Norway, we have different challenges than the rest of Europe. Norway’s railway slings through wild terrain and must be able to withstand hard weather and drastic temperature shifts. Therefore, it has been crucial to test the components in the parts of the country with the most varied weather,” Kjenne explains.

The tests gave us valuable knowledge about the components and indicates any possible need for modifications before the final railway equipment is installed nationwide. This minimizes the risk for delays during the building process and ensures that the system works well under all weather conditions, which will contribute to high reliability and punctuality.

Learning from Østfoldbanen

Although this is the first time the new system is installed for testing, it is not the first line in Norway with ERTMS. Previously, Bane NOR has installed ERTMS along Østfoldbanen Eastern Line between Ski and Sarpsborg. The line opened with ERTMS in august 2015 and is called the Pilot Line. The experience from this line contributes to a more efficient rollout of ERTMS on new rail lines in the years ahead. The first retrofitted test train for the new system have already begun testing on the Eastern Line.