Matthias Ruete gives a presentation at RailTech Europe Conference, source: Marieke van Gompel

European Coordinator for ERTMS: COVID-19 is no excuse for delay

The roll-out of trackside ERTMS should be accelerated, says European Coordinator for ERTMS Matthias Ruete. “Our ambition should be to equip not only the core network corridors or the core network with ERTMS by 2030 but a comprehensive ERTMS network in the EU. And COVID-19 should not be an excuse for delays. ”

Ruete recently presented his first ERTMS Work Plan since taking office in January 2019 as the European Coordinator for ERTMS. The document was compiled on the basis of interviews with all stakeholders in approximately 100 meetings. The plan builds on the work of Ruete’s predecessor Karel Vinck, the first European ERTMS coordinator between 2005 and 2018. Matthias Ruete will present his work plan at the online conference RailTech Infra Forum this week.

Baseline 3

According to Ruete, the European member states must now concentrate on the implementation, for both track and train equipment, on the basis of Baseline 3 or subsequent baselines. “We must ensure that at least Level 2 ERTMS is implemented, except in cases where this is not justified by the operational needs of a specific section.”

“The roll-out of trackside equipment needs to be accelerated and given the strong pressure from some Member States, our ambition should be to equip not only core network corridors or core network with ERTMS by 2030, but a comprehensive functioning ERTMS network in the EU, with covering key areas of the comprehensive network by 2040. ”

Cross-border routes

Furthermore, according to the EU coordinator, it is important to continue to pay attention to the roll-out of cross-border sections and to conclude agreements with the neighbouring Member States well in advance. “At the same time, we need to focus on infrastructure deployment on existing gaps and close them as quickly as possible to enable continuous use on longer sections of the network using only ERTMS.”

In the future, much attention should also be paid to the implementation of ERTMS on nodes in the main railway network and terminal connections, Ruete describes in his work plan. In short, we need to make significant efforts to move gradually from ERTMS islands to full corridors and networks. We need to implement the European on-board retrofitting strategy: rapid roll-out of retrofitting prototypes, stable and predictable retrofitting and upgrading budgets; simplification of authorization processes, especially for serial vehicles; identification of bottlenecks for deployment onboard and fewer legal exceptions for newly-built locomotives. ”

More EU support for the renewal of the fleet or the modification of existing vehicles is crucial, he says. “To succeed, we will need to raise the necessary funds at European, national and regional level. Providing a reliable and stable funding framework for the implementation of ERTMS, both onboard and along the railways, preferably legally defined, will be critical. ”

Old systems

“We need to find a way to quickly decommission Class B systems (such as ATB ed.) To reduce transition costs. For EU-funded projects, there should be an obligation to use ERTMS along the track only after it has been put into service after a limited transition period. In addition, we must ensure that the EU no longer finances Class B systems. We must ensure that transition costs do not recur and that accelerated investments can now take place without causing hidden costs. At the same time, we also need to ensure that ERTMS remains a world-leading system and that evolution can take place in a non-disruptive way. ”

In addition to monitoring the ERTMS implementation, Ruete will launch an initial analysis with all Member States and stakeholders involved to understand the impact of the COVID-19 crisis and related recovery plans on transport infrastructure investments. “One thing is certain, COVID-19 should not be an excuse for delays.”

Matthias Ruete will be one of the speakers at the RailTech Infra Forum digital conference on 17 and 18 June. Visit the event website to view the full programme and register for participation in the online forum.

Author: Paul van den Bogaard

Paul van den Bogaard is editor of SpoorPro, a sister title of RailTech

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