EUROPE: The European Parliament has called for expedited deployment of the European Rail Traffic Management System in order to reduce the ‘fragmentation’ of the European rail sector and achieve the EU’s climate and digital transition objectives.

A resolution from the Transport & Tourism Committee calls for additional investment and the mandatory decommissioning of around 30 legacy signalling systems across EU member states. This was adopted at a plenary session of the parliament on July 6, by 667 votes to 11 with 14 abstentions.

Suggesting that a complete roll-out would increase the capacity of existing rail infrastructure by up to 30%, the MEPs noted that despite countless past initiatives ERTMS roll-out was ‘far behind schedule’ and full interoperability had not yet been achieved.

According to the resolution, only 13% of the core network corridors were being operated with ETCS by the end of 2020, with deployment in other corridors varying between 7% and 28%.

Urging ‘a ten-fold increase’ in the pace of deployment, in order to meet the agreed 2030 deadline, MEPs also called for better co-ordination of the deployment strategy.

The resolution calls for the alignment of national implementation plans to the binding deployment targets set at EU level to ‘enforce the decommissioning of outdated national signalling systems’. It says further work is needed to remove national rules which ‘create barriers to interoperability and impede seamless operation of the European rail network’ and to harmonise operational requirements.


List of recommendations

The resolution was drawn up following a cross-sector session of the TRAN Committee on February 3, attended by Elisabeth Werner and Keir Fitch from DG Move, ERTMS Coordinator Matthias Ruete and representatives from CER, EIM and UNIFE, as well as major signalling suppliers.

From this, the Committee’s rapporteur for ETRMS, Spanish MEP Izaskun Bilbao Barandica, drew up a list of recommendations which was appended to the parliamentary resolution:

  • to draw up a European strategy for the decommissioning of Class B national systems, with regulatory deadlines set at EU level;
  • to introduce a regulatory provision to ensure that national implementation plans are legally aligned to the binding ERTMS deployment targets;
  • to further harmonise operational requirements to overcome the barriers to interoperability posed by existing national technical rules;
  • to forbid the granting of any kind of derogation or exemption from the requirement to fit ERTMS to new vehicles introduced in Europe;
  • to further streamline the authorisation procedures;
  • to create a single EU platform for the development of prototypes for the retrofitting of onboard equipment, and to establish a transparent register of prototypes already funded;
  • to ensure standardised interfaces in order to introduce the new ‘game changer’ functions such as ETCS Level 3, ATO and satellite positioning;
  • to establish a common tender format to overcome current inefficiencies in the public procurement of ERTMS.

Warning that there was insufficient capacity to manufacture the necessary ETCS components, a lack of workshop space for retrofitting work and a shortage of qualified staff, the MEPs called on the European Commission to present a legislative proposal for an ERTMS industrial strategy within the framework of the new Industrial Strategy for Europe.

nl ProRail ERTMS HSL Zuid balise

Because the EU funds currently available ‘are not sufficient to cover all the expenses needed to ensure a smooth roll-out and proper functioning’ of ERTMS, the resolution calls on the Commission and member states ‘to improve the attractiveness of investing in ERTMS and address the lack of a stable and predictable budget’.