A sixth coordinator has been appointed to oversee the implementation of a trans-European industrial project: the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS). This project is crucial to ensuring an excellent network that is safe, reliable and interoperable.
The high-speed Thalys between Paris and Cologne illustrates the problem of railway signalling systems. Locomotives are equipped with seven different mechanisms to control the train throughout its journey, which is quite costly. This fragmentation is due to the fact that in most cases, the signalling systems and speed control systems of locomotives have been developed on a national scale by local industrialists, without considering the rail network as a whole.
While most national systems will become obsolete in coming years, replacing them with a standardised system represents a major industrial challenge. To facilitate the transition, targeted Community funding has been provided, with special importance placed on the major corridors for freight traffic. ERTMS also represents the latest technology on the global market, making the European industry a forerunner in signalling, with an annual turnover of 3 billion euros and 15,000 jobs in Europe.