ETCS, an intermodality harmonization plus

Mar 22nd, 2012 | Category: Articles, Current Issue MT, Lex, March 12

At the end of January, the European Commission has adopted a decision on the consolidation of the process of certification and authorization of the lines and trains equipped with the European Train Control System – ETCS. The adopted decision refers to the technical specification for interoperability on the control-command and signalling subsystems of the trans-European rail system.

The fitting of ERTMS/ETCS should be mandatory in the case of new installations or upgrade of the train protection part of a Control Command Signalling assembly for railway infrastructure projects benefiting from EU financial support. Such fitting should in principle be carried out in the frame of the EU funded project. In certain cases, it is however necessary to grant a derogation to this implementation rule. The scope of such derogation is limited to the implementation strategy of the “control-command and signalling TSI”, stresses the decision adopted by the Commission.
Currently, there are over 20 different signalling systems in Europe and their incompatibility represents a major technical barrier in international traffic. For example, installing a new national safety system to one of the locomotives already authorized in several states and getting all safety authorizations again can cost over EUR 2 Million and last more than 2 years. The ETCS will eliminate these costs.
However, the ETCS will prove its usefulness only if the products are fully compatible and compliant with the European specifications. The decision adopted by the European Commission consolidates the testing requirements, especially those regarding testing onboard products in authorized laboratories.
In 2009, the European Commission adopted the European ERTMS Implementation Plan setting the obligations of member states in the development of the ERTMS for 2015-2020. Under the adopted decision, the locomotives, multiple-units and other railway vehicles non-dependent of traction, equipped with a driver’s desk and ordered after 1 January 2012 or put in service after 1 January 2015 have to be equipped with the ETCS/ERTMS.
Moreover, from 2011 to 2014, the first priority included in the TEN-T financing refers to the testing campaign of proving the interoperability between the railways equipped with the ETCS 2.3.0d and the onboard equipments from different industry suppliers. Within this priority area, the lines and trains contracted for fitting with the ETCS before the entrance into force of the Commission’s Decision 2008/386/EC can receive TEN-T funds for their updating to ensure their compatibility with the ETCS 2.3.0d standards.
Currently, there are over 4,000 km of line equipped with the ETCS. Moreover, contracts for equipping another 4,000 km have already been signed which means that the length of the lines fitted with the ETCS will increase by over 100% over the next two to three years.

[ by Elena Ilie ]

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