CONSIDERABLE interest in ERTMS/ ETCS has been expressed by railways outside Western Europe, which has brought some comfort to the manufacturers. Eastern Europe in particular is seen to have much potential for applications, with Poland, the Czech Republic, Romania and Hungary following developments closely. There are also indications of interest from Russia and China, but India has already decided to go ahead with a full-scale pilot installation.

Acting on an offer of support from the UIC, Indian Railways sanctioned a pilot project in 1999, and a delegation was sent to Europe. The Gaisal accident that year led IR to decide on installation of mobile train radio on trunk lines, and the wireless authorities allocated 10 spot frequencies for GSM-R in January 2001.

IR’s earlier attempts to install track magnet based automatic warning systems had failed owing to theft of the magnets, and a search commenced for a ’pilfer-free’ train protection system. This led eventually to a decision to proceed with a pilot installation of ETCS on the 84 km Mathura - Palwal section of the Delhi - Agra main line which handles 120 trains a day running at up to 130 km/h.

Equipment will initially be overlaid on existing signalling with relay interlockings and lineside signals, and in contrast to equipment developed in Europe for use on high speed lines, it will have to work with gated level crossings. To combat theft of balises, which are in any case likely to be less attractive to thieves than magnets, they may be buried under the ballast. Tenders were opened in January, and if the pilot scheme is a success, IR plans to equip 14864 route-km and 4000 locomotives in the next 10 years.

Spoornet in South Africa is also interested in an ETCS/ERTMS application on the Sishen - Saldanha heavy haul iron ore line, possibly combined with satellite-based equipment.