ERTMS has several advantages in comparison to national (Class B) systems. Some of these advantages, in addition to interoperability, are the following:
The continuous supervision of the speed of trains implies a higher safety level compared with most of the national train protection systems.
ERTMS allows the reduction of the minimum distance or time between trains, which increases train capacity. The impact of this benefit depends on several aspects, such as the track characteristics and the train protection systems existing before ERTMS installation.
High standards of ERTMS components and subsystems are included in the specifications. Thanks to the high standards of the ERTMS components, failures are in principle less likely to occur and punctuality is increased.
Creation of a seamless market for rail transport
National or so called “Class B” systems are limiting the competitiveness of rail transport vs road in Europe. Once fully deployed, ERTMS will facilitate the development of cross-border rail services.
Potential reduction in maintenance costs
Cost reduction results from a lower number of trackside components, in particular with ERTMS Level 2 (because lineside signals are no longer required) and even more with ERTMS Level 3, which can operate without most trackside train detection systems.
Most railway companies are facing the challenge of ageing staff and, at the same time, they are struggling to find replacements. ERTMS deployment, including the digitalisation of interlocking and Automatic Train Operation (ATO), will help address this issue.
ERTMS, and its upcoming new radio transmission subsystem Future Railway Mobile Communication System (FRMCS) in particular, is an enabler of digitalisation in the railway system, allowing - among other things - for the deployment of ATO and also improving the confidence interval when detecting train location.
ERTMS can make the railway sector more competitive with an open supply market. Additionally, using a proven and harmonised system can help reduce production costs.