Railpool locomotive

‘Too many ERTMS versions are causing headaches to companies in the rolling stock business’

Railpool locomotive Alstom

The current ERTMS situation brings a dilemma: there is a concrete chance that some locomotives might not be allowed to run on several European railways until 2026, according to Alberto Lacchini, General Manager for Italy at Railpool. Lacchini shared his views at the Mercintreno Forum, one of the most important events for the Italian rail freight sector, held in Rome on Wednesday, 25 October.

The shift from the current Class B signalling systems used in single countries to the digital European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) needs to be more clearly defined by European institutions, Lacchini stated. Better coordination would entail the establishment of a transition period, reimbursements for companies for locomotive owners, and more synergies between the on-the-ground and on-board systems.

ERTMS promotes interoperability between railway operators from different countries and improves performance, allowing the passage of a greater number of trains and contributing to greater punctuality. Through the information exchanged between the ground and on-board subsystem, it is possible to follow the running of the train at every moment. However, the deployment of the signalling system is not an easy matter.


In Italy, rail infrastructure manager Rete Ferroviaria Italiana (RFI) is planning to switch off the Class B system in the country starting in 2024. While partly positive of the strategy, Lacchini warns for the misalignment between wayside implementation plan and on-board deployment plans, which may lead the the loss of circulability of many existing locomotives.

The main problem is that the Baseline 3.6 is likely to be approved at the end of 2026. In other words, as Lacchini put it “no interoperable locomotives equipped with ERTMS will be allowed to circulate on said corridor before then”. Moreover, companies will have to invest huge amounts of money to equip their locomotives with ERTMS Baseline 3.6, for which many of them do not have a concrete plan yet.

To learn more about this topic, join us at the Intelligent Rail Summit ’23 on 6 & 7 November at the ‘Sofitel Warsaw Victoria Hotel’ in Warsaw, Poland. For the conference programme and speakers, visit the event website.

Read the full article on sister publication Railfreight.com.

Author: Marco Raimondi

Marco Raimondi is an editor of RailFreight.com, the online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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