IN TECHNICAL terms, the European Train Control System can be implemented. In financial terms, it can be funded. But it cannot be financed by the railways alone. This was the message to emerge at last month’s ERTMS conference in Leipzig.

A UIC report entitled ’Implementing the European Train Control System’ suggests that more than 16000 track-km would be controlled by ETCS in five years’ time and notes that GSM-R is being rolled out smoothly. But the 400 delegates heard from Stefan Garber, DB’s Head of Technology & Procurement, that rail should not price itself out of the market as ’higher costs damage the transfer of traffic from road to rail’. The precise cost of migration was unknown, and there was no operational need to make a short-term switch from existing signalling and train control systems. Antonio Colaço of the European Commission acknowledged that the EC was aware of the problems and indicated that the EU would be willing to contribute a share of the costs.

  • A position paper presented to German Railway’s advisory board on November 18 affirmed that ’there is no alternative to privatisation of the railway’. But a privatised railway would need to keep an integrated structure that included the infrastructure, as vertically-integrated operators received better ratings on the capital market, it claimed.