Innovative technology in the urban nodes

More rail traffic and trains every few minutes thanks to the installation of High Density ERTMS/ETCS and ERSAT-EAV systems on the tracks and on board trains

Milan, 31st May 2016

Short-distance trains every three minutes, safely, in the urban nodes and during peak commuter travel times. Greater traffic capacity on conventional lines included in the TEN-T European Corridors that traverse Italy. Economically sustainable low-traffic secondary lines.

This is the new frontier for the Rete Ferroviaria Italiana (RFI) for regional and metropolitan transport in the large urban areas and nodes of Italy’s major cities. A challenging goal achievable in the medium term thanks to installation of High Density European Rail Traffic Management Systems/European Train Control Systems (ERTMS/ETCS) and ERSAT-EAV on the tracks and on board trains.

The first tender for installation of HD ERTMS/ETCS will be launched within the year.

It will relate to the railway lines in the urban nodes of Milan, Florence and Rome and will be divided into three parts with a total value of 90 million euros (Milan 35m, Florence 25m and Rome 30m). Completion of these works is scheduled for 2019.

Testing of the ERSAT EAV project in progress on the Cagliari – San Gavino line in Sardinia will be finalised by January 2017.

HD ERTMS/ETCS is the 3rd evolutionary stage of ERTMS/ETCS level 2, the single and common signalling system chosen by EU Member States and the rail sector for traffic interoperability and safe transit of trains of different nationalities (German, French, Spanish, etcetera) on lines all over Europe. The Italian rail network, the first in Europe (in 2005 on the high-speed/high-capacity Rome – Naples line), has adopted it on the national high-speed/high-capacity system lines.

High Density ERTMS/ETCS triples the traffic capacity in urban nodes while guaranteeing and raising the necessary safety standards. Rail traffic will be managed in a fluid manner with regard to trains’ position and speed. At present, a single train occupies a line section of approximately 1,350 metres (static management) while, in the future, trains will be able travel safely just 350 metres apart.

RFI is also working to standardise the technological systems of the national conventional infrastructure (approximately 16,000 km), migrating from the Italian Rail Traffic Management System (SCMT)/Drive Aid System (SSC) to ERTMS/ETCS level 2. This technological evolution will affect conventional interoperable lines (core network corridors), in accordance with the requirements of the European Directives.

ERTMS/ETCS level 2 monitors and controls safe train spacing. Data and information transmitted from train to Earth and vice versa using GSM-R (Global System Mobile-Railway) - mobile telephone communication exclusive to rail companies - will permit monitoring of a train’s movement, moment by moment, providing the driver with all information necessary for safe transit and activating emergency braking if all the parameters are not complied with and the train exceeds the speed limit.

For low-traffic secondary conventional lines, the innovation of the future is ERSAT-EAV. This system, the first of its kind in Europe, will interface and integrate ERTMS rail technology with Galileo satellite navigation and localisation technology.

The Italian Railway Network (RFI) and DB Netz, managers of the Italian and German railway infrastructures, in collaboration with the train operator Trenitalia, the transport association ASSTRA and Ansaldo STS (a Hitachi company and leader in high technology for transport), are currently testing it in Sardinia, on the Cagliari - San Gavino line. The aim of this testing – thanks to the contribution of the European Space Agency (ESA), the Italian Space Agency (ASI) and the European Global Navigation Satellite Systems Agency (GSA) – is to integrate and validate satellite technology with the ERTMS signalling system. The project will soon be extended to the European network and the Italian private railways, both urban and suburban.

ERSAT-EAV receives trains’ localisation (position and speed) via satellite, while ERTMS monitors the rail traffic situation. Data and information will be transmitted (the so-called Earth/train dialogue) to the devices installed on board the trains from base radios positioned every 7 kilometres instead of from the beacon – the transponder currently used – installed every 1.3 kilometres along the railway track. This system raises the number of trains that can safely circulate on the monitored line section and will therefore enable railway companies to increase their traffic capacity.

ERSAT will help to reduce installation, management and maintenance costs. Once operational, it can be installed on nearly 45% of the secondary conventional network, replacing the current safety systems, and on a good deal of the European one.