“The ERTMS deployment so far is at a low level and represents a patchwork, despite the fact that the ERTMS concept to enhance interoperability is not generally questioned by the rail sector. Infrastructure managers and railway undertakings are reluctant to invest due to the expenses entailed and the lack of an individual business case for many of them,” a European Court of Auditors report says.
According to the “A single European rail traffic management system: will the political choice ever become reality?” report, the EU funding can only cover a limited amount of the overall cost of deployment. “This puts not only the achievement of the deployment targets set for 2030 and investments made so far at risk, but also the realization of a single railway area as one of the major Commission’s policy objectives. It may also adversely affect the competitiveness of rail transport as compared with road haulage.”
The report says that despite strategic political decision to deploy a single signalling system in the EU, there is no cost estimation to establish the necessary funding and its sources. To that end, “the level of ERTMS deployment across the EU is low. Despite the new European Deployment Plan, major challenges of successful deployment remain.”
Under EU’s 2007-2013 budget, EUR 1.2 billion was allocated for ERTMS deployment, of which EUR 645 million came from Trans-European Network for Transport Programme (TEN-T) and EUR 570 million from the European Regional Development Fund and the Cohesion Fund.
Within 2014-2020 budget, the estimated total is EUR 2.7 billion, of which EUR 850 million from the Connecting Europe Facility and EUR 1.9 billion from the European Structural and Investments Funds.
“In order to have the guarantee of interoperable ERTMS deployment throughout Europe, I plead on one hand for substantial funding to be provided by the Commission also in the future, on the other hand for ERA’s involvement in ensuring interoperability of all EU co-funded projects as of now, regardless of the management mode,” Karel Vinck, European ERTMS Coordinator said in a statement.
Within the report, the European Court of Auditors published 8 recommendations:
ERTMS deployment costs: by the end of 2018, the Commission and the Member States should analyse the total cost of ERTMS deployment;
Decommissioning of national signalling systems: also by the end of 2018, the Commission should seek agreement with the Member States on realistic, coordinated and legally binding targets for decommissioning the national signalling systems;
By mid-2018, the Commission and the Member States should, together with rail stakeholders and the ERTMS supply industry, examine diverse financial mechanisms;
“With immediate effect”, the Commission and ERA should keep the ERTMS specifications stable, correct the remaining errors, eliminate the incompatibilities between the different ERTMS trackside versions;
Also by mid-2018 the Commission should assess whether ERA has the necessary resources to act as an efficient and effective system authority;
“With immediate effect”, Member States should align their national deployment plans, in particular, when a deadline shown in the new European Deployment Plan is beyond 2023. The Commission should closely monitor and enforce the implementation of the new EDP;
The last two recommendations, the Council refers to the needed deployment investment. For the absorption of EU funds for ERTMS projects, the Commission should adapt the CEF funding procedures to better reflect the life-cycle of ERTMS projects. In addition, the Commission and Member States should target EU funding available for ERTMS projects better in cases of both shared and direct management.