News Release – ERTMS (European Rail Traffic Management System): a global standard that needs to be built on a strong European market base

Brussels, 27 January 2012 – MEPs and stakeholders gathered on 25 January 2012 at the European Parliament in Brussels to discuss the topic ERTMS deployment in the EU and its evolution as a global standard.1 Issues in deployment in the EU and successes of ERTMS abroad were presented by the European Commission and one of the major ERTMS suppliers, Ansaldo STS. MEPs called upon all EU Member States to quickly implement the system on ERTMS corridors and encouraged the industry to export the standard worldwide.


Brian Simpson, Chairman of the EP’s Transport Committee and Rail Forum Europe President, expressed his dissatisfaction about the delays in ERTMS deployment in Europe that hamper interoperability and reiterated that “the European Parliament has always been united in giving its support to ERTMS, recognising the pivotal role it can play in improving the competitiveness of the railways.” He underlined Parliament’s support to the measures incentivising ERTMS investments in the recast of the first railway package and congratulated the European Commission for its strong stance in favour of ERTMS deployment in its TEN-T proposal. He also emphasized the major export potential of ERTMS, stating that “ERTMS could become the world standard if it is built on a strong European market base”.


Christian Faure, DG MOVE, European Commission, emphasized that the implementation of the ERTMS European Deployment Plan is a priority for the Commission. Commission proposals for a track access charge discount for ERTMS-equipped trains and full ERTMS deployment on the TEN-T core network by 2030 should improve ERTMS’ business case. He underlined that products’ quality is still sometimes an issue and called upon suppliers to continue their efforts. He insisted that progress must also be achieved in connected fields, in particular decreasing authorisation costs and time and implementing the corridor approach (coordinating ERTMS investments, removing bottlenecks, harmonising operation standards, implementing the rail freight regulation).


Antonio Preto, Head of Cabinet of Antonio Tajani, Vice-President of the European Commission, Responsible for Industry and Entrepreneurship, described ERTMS as “a major industrial success for Europe”. He underlined the accomplishments of European manufacturers in exporting “the most performing signalling, control and security system for railways worldwide”. He also advocated a quicker implementation in Europe so as to overcome the current highly fragmented situation of the European rail system. He said that ERTMS implementation is “crucial for the competitiveness and growth of the rail sector”.


Sergio De Luca, Chief Executive Officer of Ansaldo STS, argued that although ERTMS is a key European asset, it is currently under exploited. He described ERTMS as “an effective and efficient signalling system developed in Europe to allow network interoperability, which has de facto become a global industry standard, confirming the European rail industry global leadership”. However, he underlined that Europe has recently slowed down ERTMS investments while non-European countries have accelerated their investments in the technology. This may create a clear risk for the European industry to lose its supremacy as new ‘ERTMS-like’ solutions and variants are being designed. As a consequence, he called for “a new pace for ERTMS”, where EU Institutions, in addition to deployment in Europe, should promote ERTMS evolution from a purely interoperability system towards a global standard.


The ensuing debate focused in particular on the situation of ERTMS deployment in Germany – a country located in the middle of four ERTMS corridors but very reluctant to invest in its implementation – and on the costs of the system. Sergio De Luca underlined that he “cannot imagine ERTMS in the EU without Germany; this would mean the failure of the system”. Questioned by a journalist about the cost factor in the German decision to postpone implementation, he responded that “prices are the lowest possible ones, considering that ERTMS is the most competitive segment in the rail industry, as customers can buy from 6 different suppliers”. Gesine Meissner, Member of the EP’s Transport Committee and Rail Forum Europe Vice-President, observed that the main rationale for Germany’s position on ERTMS is financing. She said she is putting a lot of efforts in trying to convince German politicians to change their mind. Michael Cramer, Member of the EP’s Transport Committee and Rail Forum Europe Vice-President, asked for the truth on ERTMS costs for corridor A in Germany. Sergio De Luca estimated that real costs should amount to around € 300m, but not at all to € 4bn as estimated by German authorities. Asked by Michael Cramer about a potential infringement procedure against Germany, Christian Faure underlined that, first, Member States must, by the end of 2012, notify a project planning timeline that will ensure full equipment of corridors by 2015. He added that the Commission is committed to ensure that Member States fulfil their legal obligations.


Authorisation issues and national deviations from the ERTMS standard were also addressed in the debate. Pierre Tonon, Secretary-general of ERFA, commented that authorisation issues for ERTMS are a considerable burden for new entrant operators. Christian Faure underlined that since 2008 an interoperable standard exists, thus solving the issue of the coexistence of different ERTMS versions. A number of lines equipped before 2008 need however to be upgraded to this compatible standard. It is equally important to monitor ongoing projects to prevent any deviations from the interoperability specifications. Marcel Verslype, Director of the European Railway Agency, added that the new version of the standard will be fully compatible with the current version and resolve points that were still open in the current version. Philippe Citroën, Director-General of UNIFE, concurred that the European Rail Agency must be given a strong role in setting the standard for all Member States.


Brian Simpson concluded that more regulation or treaties are not needed. “It is now time to deliver full interoperability through ERTMS implementation”, he stated.


[1] ERTMS is the European Rail Traffic Management System. This automatic train control system aims at replacing more than 20 national systems to ensure interoperability and increase capacity on the European rail network.

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To download the press release in pdf, please click here.


Rail Forum Europe AISBL

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Tel: +32 2 642 23 25


Executive Secretary

Jérémie Pélerin


Managing Board

Brian Simpson MEP (President), Gesine Meissner MEP (Vice-President), Michael Cramer MEP (Vice-President), Ines Ayala-Sender MEP, Georges Bach MEP, Jan Březina MEP, Antonio Cancian MEP, Saïd El Khadraoui MEP, Ismail Ertug MEP, Malcolm Harbour MEP, Edit Herczog MEP, Danuta Hübner MEP, Jo Leinen MEP, Dominique Riquet MEP, Andreas Schwab MEP, Debora Serracchiani MEP, Evžen Tošenovský MEP



About Rail Forum Europe

Founded by Members of the European Parliament from across the parliamentary committees, Rail Forum Europe is an international non-profit making association that aims at bringing together EU decision-makers and the rail sector to achieve a better understanding of rail-related issues. Rail Forum Europe is governed solely by a Managing Board of MEPs


Rail Forum Europe. The MEPs’ platform dedicated to rail transport.


Categories Latest News | Tags: | Posted on January 27, 2012

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