ETCS and Axle Counter Introduction

End Client

Leading Supplier of Safety Critical Equipment


Safety Assurance Management


United Kingdom and Belgium


2019 - Present

Key Stakeholders

  • Network Rail Route System Review Panel (NR SRP)
  • Future Command Control Signalling System Review Panel (FCCS SRP)
  • External Independent Safety Assessor (ISA)
  • Assessment Body (CSM RA AsBo)
  • Internal Independent Safety Assessor (ISA)

Lifecycle Involvement

Detailed Design to Site Testing


The GWML ETCS Project is the introduction of European Train Control System (ETCS) Level 2 overlay from Paddington Station at 0m to 12m along the Great Western Mainline, including the Heathrow Branch. This programme of works is the first ETCS deployment across a mainline railway and at a terminus station. 


HSRS is providing safety and assurance support to a leading international signalling technology supplier that is introducing the ECTS trackside solution. Our works include the running of Hazard Identification workshops, development of risk assessments and generation of Safety Justification Reports in-line with the requirements of EN 50129 for key installation, dynamic testing, and commissioning activities.


Our works include the safe integration of the RBC and IXL subsystems, working closely with safety assurance colleagues from the organisation's ETCS Centre of Excellence in Belgium and Network Rail.

Benefits Delivered

There were a number of challenges surrounding the project:

  • This project included the first introduction of a new scalable Radio Block Centre (RBC) product in the UK railway environment, therefore requiring additional acceptance from the Network Rail Product Acceptance services team and endorsement from the Future Command Control Signalling System Review Panel (FCCS SRP). 
  • A new version of the Interlocking sub-system is being introduced to be integrated with the FAdC Axle Counter sub-system for the first time, requiring development of new Generic Application Safety 
  • Dynamic testing activities were undertaken with a system still undergoing full validation activities; therefore requiring detailed safety analysis to ensure there would be no safety impact on the operational railway.
  • Hazard Transfer process not sufficiently implemented with Network Rail, potentially leading to residual risks not being accepted and potential commissioning delays;
  • Integration with a multinational engineering team developing a SIL4 safety critical solution.

Our Solution

As part of our activities we have brought a number of benefits to the project:

  • Our Balise and Detection Head Safety Reports allowed for installation of lineside equipment to programme.
  • We led the development of the Safety Justification Report that allowed for dynamic testing utilising a new RBC sub-system. 
  • The chairing of hazard identification sessions covering the Solution level system ensured that hazardous events in future project stages had been captured and then subsequently mitigated. 
  • We are currently developing the Specific Application Safety Case (SASC) for the first application use of a new Interlocking baseline with the FAdC Axle Counter sub-system.

Related Services

System Safety Engineering (CSM-RA Compliance)

Training and Webinars

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