New Alstom train control system in place in Germany

A new version of Alstom’s Atlas ETCS train control system has entered service on the Wuppertal Suspension Railway (Wuppertaler Schwebebahn), located in western Germany. Following a contract signed with WSW mobil GmbH, Alstom equipped the entire suspended route, including 31 new vehicles and the century-old imperial wagon (Kaiserwagen), with ETCS, the European standard for train control systems.

The entry into service marks the completion of Alstom’s first full train control and signalling contract in Germany. It comprises line-side equipment, such as interlocking, radio block centre (RBC) and necessary line elements via train control systems, as well as an interface to the computer-aided operation control system.

First German city

The Wuppertal project represents the very first application of ERTMS Level 3 in which track occupancy is solely realised using train localisation performed by the ETCS equipment onboard the train. Alstom replaced the traditional trackside train detection systems such as axle counters with a digital signalling system whereby the ETCS-equipped vehicles communicate their positions directly to the central computer (or RBC) via radio.

“With the successful implementation of this project, Wuppertal is the first city in Germany to use the European train control system in urban transport. ETCS does not only provide for safer and more efficient train operation, but also serves as a basis for many future technologies”, says Jörg Nikutta, Managing Director of Alstom in Germany and Austria.


Alstom’s ETCS system Atlas was developed in Charleroi (Belgium), while the system components were produced at Alstom’s sites in Villeurbanne (France) and Bologna (Italy). The systems are installed and commissioned in Wuppertal by Alstom staff from Charleroi, Salzgitter and Berlin.

Since 2006, Alstom has equipped 8,200 vehicles (3,200 of which are already in operation) and for 18,000 kilometres of line (7,000 in operation) with ETCS equipment. A large part of DB’s ICE fleet has also been running with Alstom’s ETCS technologies on the high-speed line between Berlin and Munich since 2017.

Author: Majorie van Leijen

Majorie van Leijen is editor of and, online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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