Infotech: Modernising the London Underground

Posted: 13 May 2013 | public touch | No comments yet

The ‘Tube’ (London Underground) carries more than a billion people each year and demand continues to grow…

The ‘Tube’ (London Underground) carries more than a billion people each year and demand continues to grow. Much of the infrastructure is very old, with some of it even dating back to the 1860s. Therefore, an update is absolutely essential to be able to meet both current and future demand. Infotech Enterprises, a leading global provider of engineering services, has provided and continues to provide signalling design support for the Jubilee and Northern lines. The modernisation of the Jubilee line was completed in the summer of 2011 with a new transmission-based train control signalling system while the Northern line modernisation is due to be completed in 2014.

To increase frequency, speed and safety, Thales is carrying out three new concepts with the Jubilee and Northern Line Upgrade Project (JNUP): Automatic Train Operation (ATO), Automatic Train Control (ATC), and Automatic Train Protection (ATP). Upgrading the lines also involves track and signalling improvements to allow Tube services to run faster, more reliably and more frequently. Infotech was heavily involved in the signalling design for this project.

In the JNUP project, trains are run on moving block systems using transmission-based train control. Communication between running trains and the control centre is made possible through ‘inductive loops’ laid on tracks throughout its length. The TBTC system does not have track-side signals. The driver is only responsible for starting the train as well as opening and closing the doors of coaches during normal operation. All other tasks, such as speed control and stopping the vehicle, are carried out automatically. The moving block system allows trains to run closer together, while maintaining required safety margins, thus increasing the line’s overall capacity.

Infotech Enterprises designed the signalling circuits for the migration from the existing signalling system to the transmission-based train control system that has been adopted on the Jubilee line and is currently being adopted on the Northern line.

The design ensures minimum disruption of traffic by keeping the existing system operational while the new system is being installed and tested. The Jubilee line, which is part of the JNUP project, has already been commissioned for revenue traffic. During the Olympic Games 2012, the Jubilee line demonstrated its ability to support the increased traffic to the satisfaction of the public. Infotech Enterprises has also started supplying the designs for the Northern line to breathe new life into old assets which are no longer in use.

In March 2012 London Underground increased the number of trains running to 30 per hour during their busiest times, delivering a total increase in capacity of 33 per cent, providing space for an extra 12,500 passengers every hour.

Once the Northern line modernisation is completed in 2014 customers will have faster, more frequent and more reliable services. The modernisation will mean we can carry an extra 11,000 passengers per hour, which is equivalent to a fifth more passengers. Journey times will also be reduced by 18 per cent.

“We are one of the leading providers of R&D and engineering services for Rail Transportation* and are proud of having been involved in one of the most challenging mass transit renovation works by supporting a global major in rail signalling”, Martin Trostel, CEO of Infotech Enterprises GmbH and Managing Director Infotech Europe, explained.

* Global R&D service provider rating by Zinnov, a leading management consulting company (

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