An SNCB Desiro EMU passes through the Schuman - Josaphat tunnel. Photo: Infrabel/Bart van Tricht

An SNCB Desiro EMU passes through the Schuman - Josaphat tunnel. Photo: Infrabel/Bart van Tricht

BELGIUM: National passenger operator SNCB has selected Siemens Mobility to upgrade the ETCS onboard equipment on selected electric multiple-units and push-pull driving trailers for Level 2 operation.

The contract announced on December 20 covers 305 Siemens-built Desiro ML EMUs plus 64 Class M6 double-deck and 21 single-deck I11 driving cars supplied by a Bombardier/Alstom consortium. As well as providing onboard equipment meeting the latest European Baseline 3.6.0 standards, Siemens Mobility will also supply an Online Key Management system and maintain the ETCS for 10 years.


Siemens Mobility had previously equipped the Desiro EMUs with an earlier version of its Trainguard ETCS technology suitable for Level 1 operation, while the I11 and M6 driving cars are fitted with Alstom ETCS. According to the manufacturer, a ‘comprehensive approach’ to the retrofitting programme will include the design of a ‘vehicle-specific system integration concept’, which will allow elements of the existing ETCS onboard unit to be retained ‘where feasible’.

The company will initially retrofit and re-authorise a prototype for each vehicle type, and then provide installation support during the series roll-out. The Level 2 technology must support national functions in both Belgium and Luxembourg, while the contract also envisages re-authorisation of a number of retrofitted vehicles for potential operation in Germany and the Netherlands.

As well as equipping the trainsets for Level 2 operation in line with Infrabel’s plans for rolling out ETCS across the national rail network, the upgrade to Baseline 3.6.0 standards will also simplify the potential adoption of additional functionalities such as Automatic Train Operation which will be included in the next update to the Technical Specifications for Interoperability.

‘We are excited to once again partner with the Belgian Railways to help modernise their rail operations’, said Andre Rodenbeck, CEO of Rail Infrastructure at Siemens Mobility. ‘This project is another important step in transforming the European railway towards a harmonised and interoperable system that safely paves the way for cross border rail transport.’