Iricav Due consortium wins 1.8 billion euro ERTMS contract in Italy
The Iricav Due consortium consisting of Italian industrial group Webuild (82.95 percent) and Hitachi Rail (17.05 percent) has won a new 1.8 billion euro digital signalling contract for a high-speed line between Verona and Padua, in Italy. They will equip the line with an ERTMS digital signalling system for Rete Ferroviaria Italiana (RFI).
Subsequent to the phase one award (Verona-Bivio Vicenza) signed in August 2020, which amounted to over 2.4 billion euros, the recently signed contract pertains to a new railway line spanning 76.4 kilometres in total. The new line will also serve to finalise the rail connection between Milan and Venice. The contract also covers the design and delivery of the track and the digital signalling that will cross the city of Vicenza with a new High Speed/Capacity (HS/C) line.
Hitachi Rail will not start work on the 6.2 kilometres Crossing of Vicenza, to equip it with an ERTMS level 2 system. The company has indeed taken part in the construction of all the High Speed/Capacity Lines in service in Italy today, supplying its ERTMS digital signalling system. This will also allow trains from nearby European countries to operate on Italian railway lines more seamlessly. Indeed track-based signalling is replaced by radio communications between the trains and the Radio Block Center (RBC), thus simplifying the railway environment by reducing the costs of the installation and maintenance of the traditional signalling systems.
ERTMS in Italy
The European Commission (EC) has allocated 300 million euros to support Italy’s implementation of the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS). This financial aid will be granted to railway companies specifically for the acquisition and installation of ERTMS onboard equipment. The goal is to have the latest version of the ERTMS system integrated into Italy’s rail infrastructure by the year 2036. To encourage companies to invest in ERTMS deployment, the EC has established this scheme, which will remain in effect until 31 December 2026, emphasising the need for efficient interoperability across the European railway network.
Italy’s progress with ERTMS implementation has already been notable. As Rete Ferroviaria Italiana (RFI), the Italian infrastructure manager, highlighted, the country was among the first in Europe to adopt ERTMS and ETCS (European Train Control System). Since the introduction of these systems on the Rome-Naples line in 2005, 878 kilometres of high-speed rail lines in Italy have been equipped with ERTMS. However, considering the total length of Italian railways is approximately 20,000 kilometres, this means only around 4 percent of the entire network currently utilises ERTMS technology.
Looking ahead, the European Union aims to significantly expand ERTMS implementation in Italy. The EU’s target is to have 1,400 kilometres of Italian railways equipped with ERTMS by the end of 2024. To achieve this objective, key players such as Hitachi Rail, Alstom, and Ceit have been collaborating with Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane (FS) since March 2022. Together, they are actively working on implementing ERTMS technology in four regions in central and southern Italy: Lazio, Abruzzo, Umbria, and Sicily.