Towards a single European rail area: the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS)
More than 20 national signalling and speed control systems now operate in Europe. Unfortunately, they are not mutually compatible. These technical inefficiencies are a major barrier to the rapidly growing market in rail freight, where the greatest potential comes from cross-border traffic. They are also holding back the development of the wider European transport network.
The solution is European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS). ERTMS sets a single signalling equipment standard across Europe, checking speeds and slowing trains down if needed. It will enable trains to move across compatible national networks smoothly, with no delays, extra checks or "fine-tuning". ERTMS as a modern high-performance system will create a unified railway area.
"Much of the benefit of ERTMS will be lost if it is deployed in isolation by just one country. Member States decided together to press forward with deployment, so they must also act together. We all have to work together if trains are to be able to operate over the entire trans-European network", said Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas, responsible for transport.
The European Commission and the Danish Presidency opened today a two-day conference in Copenhagen on the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS). This conference is a major event to boost the interoperability of the European railways, a milestone towards the single railway area. The conference addresses those obstacles that must first be overcome in order to achieve a seamless cross-border service Europeans really need. The conference also gives an opportunity to present a recommendation by the European Railway Agency on how to improve technical rules for the deployment of the ERTMS system. This will enable infrastructure managers to gain efficiency and reduce costs when installing ERTMS. The new version of ERTMS is particularly awaited by Denmark and Switzerland, as these two countries have decided to use it to equip their entire network in the coming years.
"The European Railway Agency and the Commission committed in 2008 to deliver this new version of the specification by 2012 and I'm very happy to see that it is becoming reality. This will allow us to implement ERTMS on the totality of our network as foreseen", said the Danish transport minister Henrik Dam Kristensen.
Switzerland has already signed a contract to equip its entire network by 2017, for a total cost of €250 million (less than €80,000 per kilometre). In Denmark, signalling problems due to infrastructure management account for about half of all delays. This is why ERTMS deployment is included in a larger project which aims to renew totally the rail signalling and traffic management systems in Denmark. The project includes other elements such as renewal of interlocking and equipment of trains. The total investment is €3.2 billion over a period of 12 years.
Helen Kearns (+32 2 298 76 38)
Dale Kidd (+32 2 295 74 61)