The £198 million project to remodel and re-signal the Derby station area is proceeding towards the construction phase. This will deliver a radical reconfiguration of the track layout in the Derby Station area, including London Road Junction, Derby North Junction, Derby LNW Junction and Derby St Mary’s Junction, and the provision of an additional through platform.

The project is being managed by Network Rail’s Infrastructure Projects Signalling Northern (East Midlands) team under the leadership of project director Chris Hannah. Although run as a signalling renewals project, the Control Period 5 (CP5) funding is split approximately 1/3 renewals budget and 2/3 enhancement funding. The bulk of the work will be undertaken during a 79 days partial closure from 21 July to 8 October 2018 inclusive.

The project is currently at GRIP (Governance for Railway Investment Projects) Stage 5/6 with detailed designs being finalised and early construction taking place. GRIP 5-8 (detailed design to close-out) contracts have been awarded to Siemens for signalling, civils, E&P and control centre works, and to Galliford Try for the new platform and adjustments to platforms 2/3 and 4/5. The latter is actually working for another division of Network Rail – Infrastructure Projects Central – which has the necessary expertise in this field. IP Signalling has a service level agreement in place with IP Central.

Derby station

Opened in 1840, Derby soon became the hub of a network of routes in the East Midlands. Capacity was increased by the addition of an island platform (2 and 3) in 1869, followed in 1881 by a further island – Platforms 4, 5 (bay) and 6 – creating the basis of the mechanically signalled track layout that continued through to the introduction of power signalling in 1969, when the layout was rationalised.

The station was busy while the goods lines, which bypassed the station and cut across London Road Junction, were buoyant with coal traffic passing from colliery to power station. A typical example was the Denby colliery to Willington power station working, characteristically hauled by a pair of Class 20s coupled bonnet to bonnet.

The passenger business was revitalised in the eighties and nineties by the introduction of High Speed Trains (HSTs) on the Midland main line, the creation of a new North East/South West (NE/SW) route, and the use of high-frequency second-generation sprinter DMUs on local and regional services.

Passenger numbers have grown substantially in recent years with a much more frequent service on most lines. In 1969, there were eight passenger movements per hour off peak across the junction at London Road. By 2017, this had grown to eighteen, with the station used by 3,766,902 passengers.

On the debit side, the trip coal trains are no more, and freight consists mainly of through block trains on the north-west axis through Derby which often pass non-stop through platforms 1, 2 or 3 without a crew change, thereby rendering the segregated 15mph goods lines underutilised and too slow for present traffic. Many regional trains run through on the south-west axis, reversing in Derby station.

The need for a new layout

The 1969 layout is, to put it mildly, sub-optimal for today’s traffic, and there are other significant issues. There are no signal overlaps to the ‘starting’ signals. This was considered acceptable in 1969 due to the low 15 mph throat speeds at each end of the station but would not be appropriate today as a TPWS Train Stop command is unlikely to stop a train passing a red signal before it reaches the point of conflict. Grafting compliant overlaps onto the existing layout would really stich up the station!

Another nail in the coffin for the existing layout is the inherent performance risk of critical assets where, for example, a track circuit failure along one of the diamond crossings could have a severe impact. The diamond crossings themselves require high maintenance.

With much of the equipment within Derby Power Signal Box (PSB) nearing life expiry, the opportunity has arisen to:

  • Provide a layout in the Derby area that enables reduced journey times and improves performance by increasing line speed and segregating services through Derby Station in line with the government’s HLOS (high-level output statement);
  • Remodel the station area to provide a compliant track and signalling layout;
  • Deliver a simplified layout for future electrification;
  • Renew all signalling and track infrastructure within the area that is nearly life expired.

Segregation of traffic flows

Whilst the flexibility of the existing signalling system allows for two simultaneous passenger movements at London Road, this is no longer sufficient as there are a large number of conflicts at this junction.

For example, a train from St Pancras arriving at Platform 1 blocks moves to/from the west. Furthermore, there is a blanket line speed limit of 15mph across all lines at the junction (also at the north end) which prolongs the time taken to free up routes for other trains. Consequently, time is wasted standing out at red signals awaiting a path into the platform.

The project team worked up eight options for a new layout. The Capability Analysis team, using Railsys software, analysed each layout to assess the potential journey time improvements that could be facilitated. The chosen option achieves an uplift in line speed to 40mph through Platforms 1 and 2 and 30mph on all other platform lines, the latter limit being constrained by sighting limitations. The lines are to be grouped to segregate flows in and out of Derby station generally as follows:

  • Platforms 1 and 2: Cross country traffic on the N-W axis between Birmingham and Sheffield, including freight traffic which is predominantly on this line of route;
  • Platforms 3 and 4: Local and regional services, many terminating or reversing at Derby;
  • Platforms 5 and 6: St Pancras to Sheffield services.

The modelling undertaken demonstrates a much better flow of traffic overall, with six passenger train movements able to take place simultaneously at London Road Junction instead of the present two. However, as with any large through station with junctions at each end, conflicts cannot be entirely eliminated. At L&NW Junction (near Peartree station), trains departing Platform 1 or 2 to the West will conflict with incoming services from Birmingham and Crewe crossing onto the Up Tamworth Slow heading for Platforms 3 or 4. Some careful timetabling and traffic regulation will be needed to avoid incoming services being brought to a stand at Peartree in the future. New timetables are required for December 2018.

Outline of the works

  • Track and signalling renewals throughout the area;
  • Control of the area from a new Derby workstation at the East Midlands Control Centre (EMCC);
  • Construction of new Platform 6, along with alterations to the north and south ends of existing platforms;
  • Removal of bay platform 5;
  • Adjustments to: the entry/exit of Etches Park depot and enhancements at Chaddesden sidings to facilitate empty coaching stock movements;
  • Alterations to St Andrews head shunt to facilitate the Rolls Royce Aviation train and stabling of yellow plant;
  • Renewal of Spondon Level Crossing from MCB-CCTV (manually controlled barrier with CCTV) to MCB-OD (obstacle detection).

The project is not specifically aiming to increase capacity.

Nevertheless, the resultant overall improved flow of traffic and reduced journey times will have a positive benefit on performance throughout the resignalled area and beyond. The coming of HS2 to the East Midlands will provide new journey opportunities and capacity.

Key stakeholders

Extensive consultation with stakeholders has provided the opportunity for train services to be planned to match the available access, which will change as the work progresses.

East Midland Trains requires access throughout to Etches Park depot, although this will be blocked on Christmas Day and Boxing Day 2017 whilst the new island platform worksite is established. CrossCountry Trains and freight operators GB Railfreight, DB Cargo and Freightliner Heavy Haul were all consulted to obtain their views.

Loram UK (previously RVEL Rail Vehicle Engineering) specialises in engineering work on railway traction and rolling stock. Its workshops behind the Railway Technical Centre (RTC) will be in the middle of a work site and thus have limited rail access.

Bombardier’s Litchurch Lane rail access is also smack in middle of the London Road building site. The most destructive work is planned to take place during the factory’s fortnight holiday closure, equating to the second and third week of the 79 days. Good planning will ensure that new deliveries of Crossrail trains can leave the works and Underground stock booked for service can get in.

The Rolls Royce aero engine manufacturing plant receives aviation fuel via the Sinfin branch, so plans are in place regarding fuel stock requirements.

London Road Junction now sees 18 train movements every hour.

Construction strategy

During the no train period last Christmas, the opportunity was taken to construct new under-track crossings (UTXs) in readiness for S&T and power cables. This will replace the existing cable bridge across the tracks to the west at London Road.

Key works this coming Christmas include recovering track and signalling of the goods lines and pilot siding to create the footprint of the new platform.

Galliford Try will then construct the new platform between the first week of January and June 2018. The non-operational side of the new island platform will be utilised during the 79-day partial closure as a temporary platform between days 9 and 44 for passenger services operating from Derby station.

During the 79 days, as much access as possible will be granted, although there will be a few wheels-free days. The broad plan is as follows:

  • Days 1-9: Possession taken of Birmingham line, but North-South fully operational;
  • Days 9-44: Work extended to include the South lines towards Trent;
  • Days 44-79: Station becomes a temporary terminus from South and West, no trains to the North whilst the remodelling and re-control takes place north of Derby;
  • Day 79: Derby PSB closes and all lines open.

London Road Junction will be remodelled over the course of 14 days, working from Platform 1 side to Platform 6 side – all track west of London Road junction will have been relayed prior to the remodelling of the Junction.

The track will be scrapped out piecemeal in order that a haul road for engineering trains remains at all times. So, the two-track approach into Platforms 1 and 2 will be scrapped out first and track relayed up to the tie-in point with the existing track in the platform area. This process will be repeated for Platforms 3 and 4, and finally the track into the existing Platform 6 is scrapped out and relayed into the new Platform 5 and also the new Platform 6.

This process will be facilitated by Galliford Try demolishing the southern ends of Platforms 2, 3, 4 and existing 6 to clear the footprint for the new track. The track and civils contractors will work in tandem to enable London Road junction to be transformed.

Derby PSB NX panel. Closes on completion of project.

Hub and spoke

The project is being managed under a ‘hub and spoke’ arrangement. Network Rail is at the hub, acting as principal contractor and facilitating project delivery and management of the remodelling and resignalling. The ‘spokes’ are:

  • Siemens: Signalling, control centre, E&P, telecoms, civils design and build;
  • Network Rail Signalling Design Group (SDG): signalling scheme plan design;
  • S&C North Alliance (Network Rail and AmeySersa): Pway build;
  • Jacobs: Pway design and station civils GRIP 4 (single option development) design;
  • Network Rail Infrastructure Projects Central: Station civils and M&E design and build through framework contractor Galliford Try;
  • Babcock: Telecoms enabling works design and build.

Good collaboration is crucial to the success of the project, facilitated by the co-location of Network Rail, Siemens, Galliford Try, S&C North Alliance and IP Central project staff within the construction depot at Pride Park.

Signal and telecoms equipment

An extensive Midland lines resignalling scheme was undertaken in 1969, providing three new PSBs (Power Signal Boxes) at Derby, Saltley, and Trent. Derby PSB, the last remaining in service, was provided by Westinghouse (now Siemens Rail Automation).

Life extension work carried out over many years included replacing the Westpac relay units with Howells’ equivalent, Westronic Time Division Multiplex (TDM) with a Vaughan Harmon product and, on the N-W axis, replacing the original Style 63 point machines with High Performance Switch Systems (HPSS) under the Cross Country Route Modernisation programme. Also, filament bulb signal heads have been progressively replaced with the latest LED heads by the maintenance unit.

The Signalling Condition Assessment tool (SICA) has confirmed that much of the external signalling is not life expired. Accordingly, the West lines from Derby, beyond the Sunny Hill loops, were re-controlled to a new Burton workstation within East Midlands Control Centre in 2015.

The remote interlockings at Duffield and Ambergate, to the north of Derby, will be re-controlled to the Derby workstation at EMCC during days 44-79 of the partial closure. The existing TDM systems in Duffield and Ambergate will be replaced with Westronic 1024 TDM’s linking to the new Westcad workstation.
In the resignalled area, the following equipment will be deployed:

  • Frauscher: Digital axle counters utilising type RSR123 wheel sensors;
  • Cisco: IE2000 Ethernet switches and modems for the ring transmission circuits;
  • Dorman: LED signals;
  • Unipart: AWS, TPWS;
  • SPX: In-bearer Clamplock point actuation systems with the new standard tubular adjustable stretcher bars;
  • Progress Rail, Beeston: Switches and crossings;
  • All-new 650V AC Power Supply Point (PSP) going north/west/south – double end-fed auto re-configurable;
  • Spondon MCB-CCTV: Completely replaced with an MCB-OD, together with a new road layout which will improve safety on the highway at this wide crossing.

Mid-platform signals will not be provided, but all platforms will be bi-directional with permissive routes available. The existing four-aspect sequence from the South and West through Derby will be perpetuated and meshed into the existing three-aspect sequence north of Breadsall.

East Midlands Control Centre

East Midlands Control Centre (EMCC)

Now one of Network Rail’s Rail Operating Centres (ROC), EMCC has an increasing number of Siemens Controlguide Westcad workstations, with Burton, Chesterfield, Erewash, Kettering, Leicester, Netherfield, Nottingham, Mansfield and Trent already in service, and Derby to be added next year. Automatic Route Setting (ARS) is expected to be added to the Derby workstation six to nine months later.

The existing Westpac interlockings at Breadsall, Derby, Spondon and Melbourne Junction will be replaced with three new Siemens Trackguard Westlock interlockings. Whilst these traditionally communicate with object controllers via trackside interfaces (TIF), this project will use the new Trackguard Westrace Trackside System (WTS), which uses a Front End Processor (FEP) in place of each TIF. The FEPs will appear as virtual Trackside Function Modules (TFMs) to the interlocking and therefore the FEPs will be limited in size to replicate a traditional TIF boundary.

The FEPs will communicate with zone controllers using a secure Internet Protocol (IP) network utilising the Fixed Telecommunications Network (FTNx) and local optical fibre and copper Ethernet.

In addition, a multi-service telecoms platform will be supplied by Keymile for general calls, and, of course, a GSM-R unit will be provided for communication with drivers.

With planning well underway, the project team will be well prepared for their 79 days at Derby in 2018.


Having personal involvement with the maintenance of Derby PSB in the 1970s, I’d like to thank former colleagues, and S&T staff past and present for keeping the systems in a safe and reliable condition for nearly fifty years.

Specific thanks for their help with this article to Chris Hannah, project director; Peter Luniw, senior project manager; Kerry Arrowsmith, project manager; Ian Burgess, engineering manager and Toby Higgins, media relations manager – all Network Rail. Thanks also to Chris Potts, Siemens project director, for his input and assistance.

Written by David Bickell