Rome, 24 July 2019
Four billion euros have been invested in security, with a focus on new technological systems and improving surveillance equipment in strategic areas.
Rete Ferroviaria Italiana has for some time been implementing various investment plans to install new technology and ensure, especially in sensitive areas of the infrastructure, system redundancy that allows the activation of alternative solutions and can thus guarantee service, even in cases like the fire at Rovazzano, which occurred on Monday 22 July. These solutions also mean that the need for cables running alongside the tracks and in station forecourts is reduced, allowing a considerable reduction in the amount of maintenance required, as well as in the number of sensitive areas.
RFI does, however, already meet all international standards for construction and the management of infrastructure and the systems that support it.
If we take a closer look at the work that has taken place, in the Florence junction area – and so also at Rovezzano – the ERTMS (European Rail Traffic Management System) is being installed, which will mean that distances between trains can be achieved without any longer using cables and traditional signals, but rather radio connections on secure frequencies, as already occurs on the main high speed lines. Installation of the ERTMS has also begun on the entire national rail network: the business plan stipulates that the system will be fitted on 1250 km of the network by 2021 and on 3200 km of the network by 2023. Other investments in installation and updating will be made in 320 digital station apparatus (ACCM – Apparati Centrali Computerizzati Multistazione, “Multi-station computerised central apparatus”), and these are already being implemented: they will progressively substitute existing signalling systems with entirely digital and interoperable technology. The total investment over the 2019-2023 period will be 3.8 billion euros.
Still in the security area, RFI is improving surveillance of strategic sites, so as to get to 450 systems with an overall investment of 200 million euros. Checks have been going on for some time to identify possible synergies with the Italian Air Force, to safeguard the rail network by using drones and aircraft.
As far as safety is concerned, there was no danger for passengers or trains. RFI’s technological systems immediately blocked the trains that were in transit on the parts of the line affected by the failure caused by the fire, ensuring that everybody on board the train was completely safe, as happens whenever there is an anomaly or break-down in rail traffic management and control systems.
From the morning of 23 July, rail traffic has been running normally throughout the high-speed network. Infrastructure capacity returned to be 100% available from 3pm on 22 July and as of yet there no trains in transit have been affected.
Following the damage to the data transmission cables for train distancing systems, Rete Ferroviaria Italiana has deployed further, extraordinary measures to handle this emergency: all the safeguards in the central and regional control centres have been reinforced, with special attention paid to points supplying information to the public and operators in all the main stations; over fifty technicians have been in Rovezzano to replace the burnt cables.