Matthias Ruete: use the EU Covid recovery programme to deploy ERTMS

Matthias Ruete, European Coordinator for ERTMS, source: European Commission

“Make sure that ERTMS is part of your national recovery programme. There’s 750 billion euro’s available!”, was the call that European ERTMS coordinator Matthias Ruete placed in his opening speech at the RailTech Infra Forum this Wednesday. According to Ruete this could be one of the ways to accelerate the deployment of the system in Europe.

“Under Covid-19 we have a European resilience and recovery programmr, which is financed to the extent of 750 billion euro’s. National member states have to prepare them. Make sure that ERTMS deployment is part of your national recovery programme.” According to Ruete ERTMS has become the gold standard of signalling systems in the world. He believes ERTMS will overcome all obstacles to reach the goals that have been set through Europe and the world. Reute shared the five important highlights that should be focused on for the future of the ERTMS.

Greater acceleration

In his first work plan as the European ERTMS coordinator that was introduced this spring, Ruete stated that there needs to be a greater acceleration of the roll out of the ERTMS. At the moment just over 6,000 kilometres of track have been fitted with ERTMS. 6,000 more have been contracted and the plan for 2023 is for 15,000 kilometres of tracks to be covered. His main concern is to not create ERTMS islands. “We really need to think of a network when we talk about ERTMS” explained Ruete. Ruete re-mentioned that it is a big industrial program. According to his calculations, it is a 110 billion euros investment to cover the whole trans-European network, this includes the interlockings.

He believes that what he calls ‘ERTMS deserts’ should be avoided at all costs. By that he means that there can be tracks with ERTMS but there also have to be vehicles to run on them with ERTMS. According to figures, there are 2,500 vehicles that are equipped with ERTMS at the moment. He states that in order to reach the goals set for 2030, there needs to be 35.000 vehicles equipped with ERTMS. Ruete knows that this is a steep industrial challenge that needs to be spoken about with the industry. There is also a big role, both trackside and on-board, for the European Railway Agency ERA here. “They will monitor closely the trackside public procurement and also have to give the authorization in terms of vehicles.”


Ruete’s third message was: “Let’s get rid of the old Class B-systems.” He explains there is no current European approach to the Class B system. But what he does see is what he termed as ‘anarchy’. According to Ruete anarchy is that some infrastructure managers decide to switch off Class B-systems immediately and some maintain the systems as parallel, which gives operators no incentive to invest in the retrofitting and upgrading of locomotives.

Furthermore the European coordinator wants to bare in mind that “the future needs to be prepared and there should not be situations where hardware needs to be ripped out of locomotives and constantly have replacements”. Creating emphasis that there needs to be joint vision and clearinghouse in the evolution of the system. “The buzzwords in the context are software modularity and an intelligent joined up and transition and migration management”, stated Ruete. He also sees a role for the second Shift2rail programme in this.

Second day

RailTech Infra Forum is a live online conference. The second edition of this two day event is about ERTMS implementation and its challenges. Matthias Ruete opened the first day on October 28th. Other speakers where Stefano Baglivo of Alstom, Stanlisas Pinte of the Signalling Company, Dutch ERTMS coordinator Wim Knopperts and Bruno Vanlede of Lineas. The second day on October 29 starts at 10.00 hours.

Author: Sarah Chebaro

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