Seven case studies provide examples of the many ETCS projects now underway in different countries.


In December 2003 Alstom was awarded a framework contract for on-train equipment, starting with 54 sets to equip 27 ETR500 trainsets needed to operate the Roma - Napoli line, where Alstom is already supplying the RBCs, and Ansaldo the balises and interlocking.

On April 23 2004 an ETR500 trainset attained 302 km/h under Level 2 supervision during a demonstration run on an 80 km section of the Roma - Napoli line. The demonstration included start-up in a Level 2 zone, the movement authority's assignment and extension, a handover at full line speed between two RBCs, and use of temporary speed restrictions.

A further 300 km/h demonstration run was scheduled to take place during the UIC's ERTMS conference in Roma on December 15-17.

Alstom is also supplying 24 sets of on-board equipment to Trenitalia and 28 to Cisalpino for their next builds of 12 and 14 Pendolino trainsets respectively.

DB moves towards EBA approval

Inaugurated by DB Chief Executive Hartmut Mehdorn on July 7 2003, a section of the Berlin - Halle/Leipzig line is being used to test interoperability, to validate the Unisig specifications, and to get EBA approval for ETCS in Germany. The 39 kmnorthern part of the route from Ludwigsfelde to Jüterbog was one of the national ERTMS test lines partially funded by the European Commission. The remaining 120 km has been funded nationally to gain technical and operational experience with Level 2 (V2.2.2). Contracts to equip both parts of the line were awarded to a consortium consisting of Alcatel and Siemens.

The electrified, double track line was already signalled for bi-directional operation throughout its length. It has now been upgraded from 160 km/h to 200 km/h. The northern interlocking at Jüterbog is managed from the operations control centre in Berlin, and the two southern interlockings from Leipzig. The GSM-R coverage is also split between the two regional control offices.

The ETCS installation includes 250 balises for the northern section and 795 for the southern. All provide fixed information, but were programmed in the field. The balises are arranged in groups of two where the information is directional, and singly when used for distance recalibration. The line has been provided with 19 Base Transceiver Stations to ensure overlapping radio coverage and redundancy, to meet the quality requirements for data as well as voice communication.

The RBC at the core of the wayside system is housed in a cabinet which also contains the interfaces to the local interlockings and GSM-R. As the radio system is non-vital, all vital coding, decoding and message management for communication with the trains is performed by a vital pre-processor.

Zaragoza - Huesca goes live

THE Zaragoza - Huesca line forms a branch off the Madrid - Zaragoza - Barcelona high speed line. Alstom is in charge of equipping it with Level 1, and the equipment was due to go live in December.

The section between Zaragoza and Tardienta is standard gauge, and Tardienta - Huesca is mixed gauge with three rails to accommodate broad gauge local traffic. Between Villanueva de G? llego and Tardienta the line has one standard gauge and one broad gauge track.

Among the features of the route is a new blue colourlight signal with a new aspect of red plus flashing blue. This means that trains running with Level 1 can proceed, but trains not fitted with active ETCS must stop.

Nine of Renfe's existing AVE S-100 trainsets have been fitted with Alstom on-board equipment for use on Madrid - Lleida. Alstom is also equipping the 20-strong fleet of AVE S-104 Lanzaderas trainsets which will work 250 km/h regional services. Alstom is to supply 60 further sets of on-train equipment for the fleet of 30 Lanzaderas II trainsets due to arrive in October 2006 and enter service in April 2007, including the GSM-R and STMs for compatibility with the LZB train control installed on the Madrid - Sevilla route.

Cambrian pilot aims to cut ERTMS costs

in December 1999 Railtrack formally abandoned plans to install ERTMS Level 3 with moving block as a key element in upgrading the UK's West Coast Main Line for 225 km/h. Since 2002 the Strategic Rail Authority has taken the lead in a more cautious approach. SRA's Programme Director Derek Chapman says the National ERTMS Programme (NEP) team currently has two work streams.

The first is to prepare a business case for rolling out ERTMS nationally. This will be 'System D', which is ETCS Level 2 with radio data links replacing lineside signals.

With installation of the UK's unique TPWS train protection equipment completed 12 months ago, a consultation document issued on November 17 2004 by the Office of Rail Regulation noted that 'the incremental safety improvement that ERTMS can provide is therefore limited, and ERTMS deployment should be driven by business need.'

While the potential for reducing delays to trains by as much as 20% and increasing line capacity are being modelled by the NEP team, avoiding the cost of renewing life-expired signals and track circuits has to be a key component of any business case. So ERTMS installation must be co-ordinated with Network Rail's signalling renewal programme as part of a progressive migration strategy, which means that rolling stock fitment can run in parallel across the network.

The second NEP workstream is to install and commission ERTMS on the 218 km single-track Cambrian lines in Central Wales (RG 6.04 p317). Known as the Early Deployment Scheme, the Cambrian testbed is seen as a way of ironing out modelling and interface issues that will only emerge when equipment is installed on a working railway, as well as demonstrating that ERTMS is 'value for money'.

Chapman describes this EDS as 'the big project now' and puts the cost at around £50m. Of this, 'a large part is development costs' such as writing new operating rules. There will also be strong pressure on suppliers to bring down the cost of retrofitting trains when the invitations to tender for EDS hardware are issued in May, although the number of Class 158 DMUs to be operated by Arriva Trains Wales on the network has increased from 11 to 17. Up to four locomotives owned by EWS will also be fitted for use on engineering trains (there is no freight).

Chapman says another area where cost reduction is sought is train detection. Today, Cambrian trains are controlled by Radio Electronic Token Block. Movement authorities are issued to the drivers as secure digital messages, and in 2003 TPWS was installed at crossing loops to stop any unauthorised entry to a single-track section.

There is one 6 km section between Machynlleth and Dovey Junction with conventional track circuit block and colourlight signalling. Chapman says this may be converted to axle counters, but Network Rail is keen to test on part of the Cambrian a modified version of System D which would eliminate the need for track-based detection systems on rural lines.

The latest programme for the Cambrian EDS sees hardware installed during 2006-07 with the UK's first UK ERTMS project going live early in 2008. If it proves satisfactory, the life-expired RETB will be decommissioned 12 months later.

SBB gears up for Mattstetten - Rothrist

As long ago as 1996 Swiss Federal Railways decided that the Mattstetten - Rothrist high speed line should be fitted with Level 2 ETCS.

A pilot Level 2 project with trains using the equipment in commercial service was launched over the 35 km between Zofingen and Sempach on the Luzern - Olten main line in 2002, although the intention had been to go live in May 2000 (RG 8.03 p492). Valuable practical experience was gained over the following year, and SBB's engineers were quickly alerted to the pitfalls and problems. The equipment was phased out in November 2003 and conventional signalling reinstated.

In the meantime an order had been placed for Level 2 equipment using Version 2.2.2 specifications for Mattstetten - Rothrist, and SBB was sufficiently concerned following its experience with the pilot to decide that the new line should have back-up signalling. At a cost of SFr30·8m, this would ensure that the line opened as planned in December 2004, albeit not at the planned line speed limit of 200 km/h but at 160 km/h, the maximum for conventional signalling.

The back-up control system uses SBB's standard ZUB train control matched with Eurobalises for data transmission between track and train, a combination that was tested successfully between Zürich and Chur in 1997-99 (RG 9.99 p583). This meant that all rolling stock using the line had to be fitted not just with Level 2 ETCS, but also with Specific Transmission Modules that interface with the Eurobalises and interpret the data for the on-board ZUB equipment.

Trains being fitted include 36 ICN tilting trainsets, 119 Class Re460 locomotives, 18 Class 465 locomotives and 130 driving trailers of two types. By the end of November ETCS equipment and STMs had been installed in much of this extensive fleet, with some vehicles just receiving STMs. The whole of the designated fleet is due to be equipped for Level 2 operation by the end of 2005.

Scandinavian modules

As part of their strategy for introducing ERTMS in the Nordic region, Banverket, Jernbanverket and RHK signed a co-operation agreement to develop a common Specific Transmission Module which would be made available to operators using their networks. The STM is designed to permit ERTMS on-board equipment to read and interpret ATP instructions from conventional signalling.

The aim is to migrate by equipping the trains with ERTMS and STMs, and then convert parts of the infrastructure once all the vehicles operating on each section have been fitted. When the whole network has been converted after 10 to 15 years, the STMs will be removed.

Sweden and Norway use a mix of L10000 ATP supplied by Ansaldo Signal and Ebicab 700 from Bombardier; Finland adopted Ebicab 900. All three systems use 27/4·5MHz transponders similar to the ETCS Eurobalises, which will require special attention to interference and mode transitions. In most cases the trains will use the ERTMS antenna and Balise Transmission Module to read both types of balise, as defined in Unisig's 'Interface K' specification.

Under the leadership of Banverket, a three-phase contract was awarded to Ansaldo subsidiary AT Signal System AB in April 2003 to specify, develop and deliver STMs for Sweden and Norway. This was followed in September 2003 by a similar contract from RHK for the Finnish version, which will use the same hardware but slightly different software. The two programmes will be implemented in parallel over three years, leading to the start of series delivery in 2006. The first practical application will be on the Botniabanan from Sundsvall to Umeå (RG 12.04 p846), where the first section is expected to open in 2008.

Belgium backs Level 2

THE BELGIAN section of HSL-Zuid north of Antwerpen is due to be commissioned by April 2006 and Liège - Aachen by the end of that year. Both lines are to be fitted with Level 2 for 300 km/h operation, and Level 1 as a backup. Alstom is responsible for the delivery of PLP interlockings, and track circuits and Alcatel the Radio Block Centre for HSL-Zuid. Siemens is supplying the Eurobalises and axle counters plus LEUs for the Level 1 back-up. The system is designed to interface with SNCB's EBP train control system, and adjacent interlockings. Separate contracts will cover the on-board train equipment and the GSM-R network.