ERTMS director Wim Knopperts of ProRail

Dutch ERTMS coordinator: costs can be reduced with ETCS-Light

One of the ways to reduce the costs of installing the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) is to introduce ETCS-Light on board trains. ETCS Light is a mobile installation that can be placed into a locomotive. Wim Knopperts discusses this in an interview that will be shown during the RailTech Infra Forum on 28 and 29 October, hosted by RailTech.

The ERTMS programme in the Netherlands is looking into innovative solutions to reduce the installation costs for the European rail safety system ERTMS. During the online conference, Wim Knopperts, Director of the Dutch ERTMS Programme, will talk about the solutions that the programme is working on.

ETCS Light

Knopperts expects that ETCS Light will deliver significant cost reductions for train owners,
particularly those who own yellow fleet or black fleet trains. For the rail freight sector, research is
being carried out into the extent to which ETCS-Light can contribute to cost reduction for switchers.
Together with communication system GSM-R, ETCS is part of ERTMS.

According to the programme director, the biggest challenge for the rollout of ERTMS in the
Netherlands is the cost for train owners, especially rail freight operators, haulage contractors and
owners of historic trains. Knopperts believes that if no solution can be found for them, when ERTMS
track sections are opened there will be too few locomotives equipped with ETCS Baseline 3 to operate
on them. “Ultimately this will have a negative effect on rail freight in terms of the modal shift from
road and water to rail”, cautions Knopperts.

Solutions

To reduce the costs for the train owners, the programme is working on various solutions, including the
innovative ETCS-Light. “This is a mobile ETCS installation, consisting of a trolley containing the most
important ETCS train equipment that can be placed on a locomotive or a contractor’s train. It makes
everything quite a bit cheaper. The Netherlands is very involved in it, but other countries are also
working on it, including the United Kingdom and France.”

Knopperts hopes that the EU and the certifying bodies will support ETCS-Light. “If this solution comes
on the market, it must also go through all the approval processes, and the interface specifications must
be made uniform throughout Europe. Attempts are being made to connect with OCORA, an initiative
from a number of large European rail operators, in order to find a more economic solution for the on-
board equipment.”

Last mile

According to Knopperts, ETCS-Light can be applied to maintenance trains, and possibly also for the
last mile, such as for shunting. “You could operate with ETCS-Light over short distances, meaning that
lower investments need to be made in trains.” ETCS Light, asserts the programme director, is not
intended for long, cross-border journeys. For these, permanently installed ETCS train equipment is
necessary, as defined in the programme decision.

The full interview with Wim Knopperts can be seen during the online Rail Infrastructure Forum, which
will take place on 28 and 29 October. Please visit the website to view the programme.

Author: Marieke van Gompel

Marieke van Gompel is editor-in-chief of RailTech.com, RailFreight.com and SpoorPro.nl, online magazines for railway professionals.

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