Next Generation of Train Control (NGTC) – Better connected railways

Next Generation Train Control (NGTC) is the first research project partially funded by the European Commission under the 7th Framework Programme, where all the main rail system signalling suppliers together with mainline operators and infrastructure managers as well as urban rail operators are working jointly in developing the next generation of train control systems. Thales Canada, Toronto, alongside Siemens, Bombardier and Alstom is one of the 21 involved partners.

The NGTC project brought 21 partners together to create a new standard for train control systems. Both urban and main line operators will be gathered to identify the requirements for all line types, spotting synergies and divergences of both systems in terms of hardware platforms, architectures and system designs. These results will lead to an architecture definition to be built around standardised modules, with the requirement of backward compatibility with older system. NGTC needs to be seen in the wider context of rail research. It is one of the projects which pave the way to SHIFT2RAIL, an initiative for an ambitious large-scale, industrially-driven and multi-annual research programme that aims to help the EU rail industry to retain its world leadership. The results of NGTC will directly contribute to the SHIFT2RAIL Innovation Platform on Traffic Management and Control Systems which aims at developing the future generation signalling and of train control.

The wide and successful deployment of ETCS (European Train Control System) technology across the EU network and worldwide is providing new opportunities for safety and capacity improvements, and cross-border operations on the mainline network. Likewise, numerous new innovative control and command signalling systems are being introduced in the urban rail area, equally providing improvements to capacity, safety and flexibility. On the one hand, ETCS defines a standard train protection system that is based on a set of defined functions and track-to-train messages, providing full interoperability between the infrastructure and the trains. On the other hand, the various control and command systems in the urban world, which are company specific or proprietary systems, have proven to be successful performers, yet are not “interoperable” between them. The European industry is the world leader for both of these types of systems.

Three different branches of the multinational Thales Group are part of the NGTC consortium, including the transportation department of Thales Canada. The involvement of Thales Canada in the project is mainly due to the “vast expertise, experience and authority of Mr. David Dimmer” who acts also as the technical project leader for NGTC. The project and therefore all involved partner organisations, benefits from his experience of working in urban train control systems for 25 years. He has been a major contributor to the design of Thales’ SelTrac Communication Based Train Control system, has over 10 years of experience in standardisation activities and has also been the lead representative for Thales in the MODURBAN (Modular urban guided rail systems), an FP6 funded, project.

The consortium consists of multinational corporations, operators, universities and infrastructure managers and the participation of a Canadian partner is explained by the competence of the involved person, who represents a global company. The project establishes a knowledge link between the EU and Canada, motivated by the global structure of the partners involved. Beyond that, the project shows how European research and development activities can be enhanced by involving experienced international partners.

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