Today, the European Commission adopted a decision strengthening the certification and authorisation process of lines and trains equipped with the European Train Control System (ETCS). ETCS is the European standard for train signalling and speed control. Deployment of ETCS across key freight and high speed corridors will greatly improve the competitiveness of European railways.
The ETCS concept is simple: information is transmitted from the ground to the train, where an on-board computer uses it to calculate the maximum authorised speed and then automatically slows down the train if necessary. ETCS is part of the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS).
Currently, there are more than 20 different signalling systems in operation in Europe and their incompatibility is a major technical barrier to international traffic. For example, adding an additional national safety system in an existing locomotive, already authorised in different countries, and obtaining again all safety authorisations may cost more than €2 million and take more than two years. ETCS will eliminate these costs.
However, ETCS will only bear its fruits if products are fully compatible and conform to the European specifications. The decision adopted today strengthens the requirements regarding testing, in particular that on-board products are tested in accredited laboratories.
Vice-President Siim Kallas, European Commissioner for Transport has asked that the currently ongoing review of EU passenger ship safety legislation take fully into account any lessons to be learnt from the Costa Concordia tragedy. The review will prioritise, in particular, the issues of: design and stability of passenger ships, technological developments in the sector, crew training and safe operation, including emergency evacuation procedures. Vice-President Kallas will outline the Commission's position to the European Parliament's Transport Committee on Tuesday 24 January 2012.