Network Rail selects Thales for signalling communications system

Network Rail has selected Thales to develop and install a new signalling communications system on the East Coast Main Line.

Before it goes live in 2023, the Online Key Management System (OKMS) system will be tested late next year.

If successful, OKMS will be introduced across the UK under the Network Rail’s long-term programme aimed at improving the country’s rail system.

As a data security solution, it will streamline the operation of a modernised rail network.

It will allow secure exchange of important information between trackside equipment and in-cab European Train Control Systems (ETCS) equipment.

ETCS transmits safety critical data, including train positioning between track and train.

Thales said in a statement: “The new Thales OKMS will build on proven offline key management technology that has been developed by Thales in the UK and Germany and deployed in both Poland and Israel.”

However, this version will feature ‘a greater level of automation’ as it would integrate new online connectivity.

It will also allow the control keys and instructions to be issued efficiently in comparison with the existing networks, which depend on a human interface.

Thales UK ground transportation systems vice-president Andy Bell said: “The online element of this solution is truly innovative, having not yet been implemented elsewhere in the world, meaning Network Rail will be leading the market in the new generation of systems.

“The Thales solution will be developed in both our cyber security development centres in Germany and closer to home in Thales’s worldwide Digital Competence Centre (DCC), located in Manchester in the UK.”

In May, Thales won a contract to provide a train-to-ground broadband data communication solution, along with video surveillance and security systems, for the modernisation of Italy’s Brescia Metro.

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