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Mobility and Transport

What are the deployment challenges?

The European Commission has set measures to monitor the deployment of ERTMS. Based on the experience gained over the years, some challenges have been detected in relation to delays in ERTMS deployment:

  • Changes to national ERTMS deployment strategies. Changes to national ERTMS deployment strategies affect both ERTMS trackside deployment and on board retrofit projects and have an adverse impact on the industrial capacity. 
  • Lack of resources. ERTMS deployment is being affected by a lack of financial and human resources. Notably, the industry must ensure skilled staff for their installation.
  • Delays in general infrastructure modernisation. Any delay in the infrastructure modernisation affects the parallel or subsequent ERTMS deployment.
  • National systems. In some cases, Infrastructure Managers prefer to continue to use national systems that have not reached obsolescence rather than upgrade to ERTMS.
  • Fleet equipment. The delays in equipping the train fleet with ERTMS may delay progress in rolling out ERTMS trackside.
  • Cross-border coordination. In some cases, Member States fail to coordinate network development, hampering cross-border interoperability. Different approaches create gaps in the ERTMS deployment, so that vehicles have to be equipped with national Class B systems in order to operate on the sections not yet equipped with ERTMS.
  • Public procurement. Procurement procedures may also lead to delays or even project cancellations due to limited number of offers received or offers exceeding the budget. Also, excessive or demanding requirements in some public procurements resulted in lengthy tenders and delays in project delivery.
  • Technical aspects. Considering the complexity of the technical architecture, there is a list of challenges faced from a technical perspective, for example: maturity of specifications, lack of experience with the new ETCS Baseline 3, unavailability of products, lack of product documentation, etc.

On 14 December 2021, the European Commission published the “Action plan to boost long-distance and cross-border passenger rail”. The plan is part of a package of measures for efficient and green mobility and should help the EU meet its strategic milestones of doubling high-speed rail traffic by 2030 and tripling it by 2050. In this document, the European Commission emphasised the need to accelerate the ERTMS deployment and remove legacy signalling systems. It proposed a series of new actions to achieve this objective.

Finally, the current revision of the railway State aid Guidelines will simplify the rules on aid for the coordination of transport. They will reflect the latest market and regulatory developments in order to enable the railways sector to embrace the green and digital transition in line with Commission’s priorities, in particular those of European Green Deal.