image: SNCF Réseau

French transport agency makes recommendations for opening up on-board safety equipment

image: SNCF Réseau

France’s Autorité de Régulation des Transports (ART) earlier this month issued a report on the obstacles facing new commercial entrants in the country’s high-speed rail segment. The agency highlights that, among other things, new entrants need to be able to design and implement suitable on-board security architectures.

According to ART, enabling new players to enter the French railway market could accelerate the modal shift. The examples of Spain and Italy offer promising signs in that regard. However, there remain a number of barriers to market entry, especially technical ones related to on-board safety architecture of trains designed to run on high-speed lines.

The rollout of ERTMS can facilitate interoperability, but ART points out that the implementation of the system is lagging in France. For such a situation, there are the so-called specific transmission modules (STM) as part of the EU’s transitional solutions amidst the rollout of ERTMS. Under European law, member states must implement mitigating measures if the availability of STMs cannot be guaranteed.

However, these transitional solutions have not yet been implemented in France, ART says. The agency notes that new players have expressed their concern about this situation, which keeps them from design suitable on-board security architectures, making it more difficult to obtain the required authorisation.


For this reason, ART has made a number of recommendations, which include setting up a dedicated Class B authority in the country to support new entrants. This new entity should then also facilitate access to the necessary information.

Thirdly, France’s legacy systems should be opened up. At the same time, the country should work to retain know-how and skills related to those systems. For example, new players should be able to count on the right people still being available to assist them in the implementation of safety equipment.

Finally, ART stresses the important of an accelerated deployment of ERTMS or, at a very minimum, a clear schedule and time table for the rollout. The report in its entirety can be accessed here. An English summary can be found here.

This article first appeared on, the French language version of our Belgian sister publication. 

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Author: Nick Augusteijn

Chief Editor,

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