Electromechanical, electronic and automated systems technologies for railway circulation and operational support

Driver support technologies

The devices and systems for a safe railway circulation currently used on the Italian network are diversified and integrated among each other depending on the characteristics of the lines and the type of traffic managed on the same (passengers or goods; long, medium or short distance) and they guarantee:

  • management of railway circulation in stations, at crossroads and in the other service areas, enabling to work in safety on points, signals, etc. as regards tracks appointed to each train;
  • separation between trains, thus enabling to keep a safe distance between one train and another along the lines (technological separation systems such as: BA=Automatic Block; BAB=automatic block signalling; BCA= sleeper counting block; BCAB= sleeper counting block signalling; BR= radio block for high-speed and high-capacity lines;
  • train gear protection that includes the following technologies: Drive Aid Systems called SSC - Sistema di Supporto alla Condotta, the train Control System called SCMT - Sistema Controllo Marcia del Treno and ERTMS -  European Rail Train Management System;
  • supervision and remote control of railway circulation;
  • protection of railway circulation in points intersecting road networks (level crossing);
  • acquisition and transfer of land and on board information.

Technologies for operational support

Among the various technological systems fundamental for the functioning of the railway infrastructure, it is important to mention the following:

  • support provided to the computerized management of the maintenance processes (maintenance platform) and the circulation processes (circulation platform, functional among other things to providing information to the public concerning trains as well as the commercial relationship with railway Companies);
  • remote control of the electric traction fixed systems enabling to intervene from centralized positions on transmission, transformation, conversion and distribution processes of the electric energy necessary for the traction of the means circulating on the network (DOTE);
  • video surveillance of the most important assets of the network (traits of railway, tunnels, bridges, stations, etc.), fundamental for guaranteeing continuity and efficiency to railway circulation, but also to increase travellers’ security at stations.

ERTMS technology

The European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) is the advanced safety system for spacing trains, able to manage and control rail traffic. Operating in Italy for over ten years on the High Speed/High Capacity lines, the ERTMS system represents one of the most important innovations introduced in recent years in the panorama of railway signalling.

ERTMS favours interoperability between railway operators from various countries, based on information exchanged between the subsystem on the ground and on-board. The data and information transmitted allows the train’s speed to be continuously monitored, providing the train operator with all information necessary for its safe operation, and with the emergency braking system being activated in the event that all parameters are not respected and the train’s speed exceeds the permissible limit.

In Italy, there are over 700 kilometres of line today equipped with ERTMS technology along the Turin–Milan–Bologna–Florence–Rome–Naples–Salerno vertical axis.