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Confidence grows as Level 2 beds in on Roma - Napoli

01 Jun 2007

ETCS Level 2 worked faultlessly when Murray Hughes rode Train 9607 from Roma to Napoli over the 205 km high speed line that opened last December. The number of services was stepped up in March, and more will be added in June

MICHELE ELIA, Technical Director of Italian infrastructure manager Rete Ferroviaria Italiana, receives daily reports on the performance of ERTMS equipment on the Roma - Napoli high speed line. In service since last December, the line and its equipment is being constantly monitored at the highest level.

Elia is only too well aware that RFI and sister company Trenitalia are the pioneers with ETCS Level 2 at high speed. 'No-one had this experience before us - we are the first', he says proudly at RFI's head office in Roma. Freely conceding that there have been problems, Elia nonetheless insists that from design to implementation has taken just four years. 'We are tuning the system every day to overcome the problems', he says, 'dealing with every failure, finding the cause and then the way to prevent the same event happening again.'

This has entailed many versions of software and new hardware, and 'now we only have small problems'. Using diagnostics tools, 'we are advised before the failure occurs', he says, noting that many failures relate to conventional equipment such as the 350 track circuits on the line. 'These are very sensitive', he explains.

The equipment testing process is intense and demanding. Every day up to 10 test trains are run and 'every night we update the version of the software', Elia says. 'This work cannot stop until we have a complete level of confidence in the system.'

Since January 23 Trenitalia has been operating two trains in each direction over the new line in commercial service. Following Elia's briefing on March 8, RFI has arranged for me to travel to Napoli to see at first hand how ERTMS is working. The rendezvous is the Alta Velocit?