A single European Database for the ERTMS deployment

Using a digital platform as the single European Database for the ERTMS (European Railway Traffic Management System) deployment on the European core network corridors: the missing link to accelerating its deployment and growth.

The rail rolling stock keepers are very interested in the modernisation of existing as well as new rolling stock. As a means of support to private investments in rail rolling stock, AERRL and ALLRAIL call for the creation of a data tool at a European level which will encourage funders to make investments that consider the current situation and the planning of future ERTMS deployment. This tool is the critical link to an accelerated deployment, which is a key condition to achieving the EU-wide standards for the railways. This will ensure sustainable growth in the coming years through safe, efficient, high-quality transport services. The database will coordinate the decisions that infrastructure managers and rolling stock owners make. Its development should be a priority for European core network corridors.

The EU Commission’s growth projections for rail transport by 2030 are impressive: doubling of HST traffic and a 50% increase in freight traffic is expected. In addition, more and more voices are being raised to support the renaissance of passenger rail transport, short and long-distance, day and night.

To reach these goals, an investment in the modernisation of existing as well as new rolling stock is needed. Infrastructure capacity must be increased.

Intelligent technologies can increase network capacity, for example through the ERTMS / ETCS (European Train Control System) Level 3, which can generate up to 30% additional efficiency, including maximising transport nodes such as stations and terminals.

In other words, to run more trains safely while utilising the existing infrastructure in the most effective manner, ERTMS is essential.

Article 17 of the EU Commission proposal for a regulation on Union guidelines for the development of the trans-European transport network, contains an obligation for Member States to equip the extended network and the comprehensive network with ERTMS and to decommission the class system by 31/12/2040.

This objective can only be achieved smoothly and with certainty by coordinating the decisions of the main players, the infrastructure managers, and the equipment owners. As a prerequisite for this coordination, accurate information on the current situation and equipment planning is paramount.

We need more transparency and predictability on ERTMS deployment projects on infrastructure

The rail rolling stock lessors and the railway undertakings need to be better and more quickly informed of the current, detailed ERTMS trackside specifications as well as the proposed planning of the deployment.

A data tool at the European level designed to help funders make informed decisions about ERTMS investments that take into consideration the current and planned trackside situation is the missing link to the acceleration of the ERTMS deployment and growth. For the time being, no tool exists to help coordinate the decisions of infrastructure managers and rolling stock owners.

A solution regarding European core network corridors should be a priority.

A digital platform that reflects the level of the characteristics, as well as the planning of deployment of the ERTMS on the European core network corridors at the same time will enable the development of the locomotive upgrades and new orders.

Equipping the vehicles makes no sense if the infrastructure is not in place.

As far as AERRL and ALLRAIL are concerned, the following data should be available for each line on a European platform:

  • Where and when is the ETCS operational for the next 5 to 10 years?
  • What set of specifications and levels for ETCS, and radio mobile system are there?
  • Which class B system is being maintained in operation and until when (decommissioning plan)?
  • Planning for eventual upgrade(s)
  • Who are the project stakeholders per Line or Corridor?

Ensuring the availability in real-time and the reliability of the data must be the responsibility of both European and national authorities from 1/1/2023.

We need the investments on ERTMS On-Board Units (OBU) to be furthermore subsidized by European Commission

The European Commission estimates that the removal of the historic Class B signalling systems during the deployment of the ERTMS program could lead to more than 17 billion savings by 2040 for the European railway system.

We understand that the EU Commission intends to constrain the keepers to equip their existing rolling stock with an ERTMS BL3 OBU before 2040. Our new equipment acquired over the recent years will meet this objective. However, several thousand older assets will have to be modified to embed the ERTMS OBU and will have to undergo numerous version upgrades by 2040.

The investments in rolling stock related hereto, are mainly for the account of the keepers of locomotives and trainsets. The subsidies granted by the European Commission are today far too low and barely cover 20% of the investments made, this level being even lower for rolling stock that is over 15 years old. As a result, the past subsidy policy of very small steps must be replaced by a consistent funding plan especially for rolling Stock, which as a result will also support a consistent and stringent deployment plan for ERTMS. Rolling Stock Lessors are ready to take up the challenge of installing ERTMS to decommission Class B systems. We consider that the BL3 upgrade ambition is only possible on the sole condition of full (100%) subsidy support by Europe with -at least partial- upfront payment.

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