BELGIUM: Freight operator Lineas has commissioned The Signalling Company to develop a mobile app providing TBL1+ functionality as an add-on to its digital onboard ETCS platform.

Lineas is a partner with ERTMS Solutions in the TSC joint venture, and has already commissioned the company to develop a digital ETCS onboard unit to equip 88 locomotives from 2024. The TBL1+ app is intended to provide an interface between Infrabel’s legacy Class B train protection system and the ETCS onboard unit, acting as a Specific Transmission Module. This is made simpler in the Belgian case as TBL1+ uses Eurobalises for track-to-train transmission.


Testing of components for the digital ETCS onboard unit is currently underway in Belgium. 

TSC has designed its onboard ETCS platform package to allow the addition of extra functionality using a series of apps, which it plans to make available to train operators through a Railway App Store currently under development. This approach is intended to facilitate automatic updating of the software as the standards and requirements evolve.

Describing the app as an ‘automated and dematerialised STM’, TSC says it ‘will be the first in its kind in Europe’. The TBL1+ app would enable Lineas or any other customer to add the functionality to ‘any future locomotive’ that needs to operate using the Belgian legacy system.

The app is due to be developed over the next two years and launched in 2024 as an integrated package with the onboard units for the Lineas fleet. Under the contract, the app will be maintained and upgraded as necessary until 2036.

In December 2020 TSC agreed an ‘open co-operation’ with CAF Signalling on the development of Class B systems for use with their respective ETCS products. Announcing the Lineas order on June 28, the company confirmed that it was in talks with ‘several organisations and clients’ for the development of other Class B STM apps to be added to its portfolio. Apps for automatic train operation and the interface with digital automatic couplings are under discussion.

Welcoming Infrabel’s decision to publish the complete system requirements specifications for TBL1+, TSC CEO Stanislas Pinte said he believed this would encourage a competitive market for STMs, in compliance with the requirements of the European deployment plan.

‘We’re delighted that our ETCS supplier has proposed and validated the development of a TBL1+ app for Belgium’, said Lineas Locomotive Fleet Manager Bruno Vanlede. ‘This is an important step into the digitalisation of the rail sector, as much less hardware will be needed on the loco and more capable technology will be available for all of us to operate in a wider, faster and more cost-efficient way.’