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Mobility and Transport

What are the deployment problems?

The European Commission has set measures to monitor the deployment of ERTMS. Based on the experience gained over the years, the issues affecting ERMTS deployment are listed below.

  1. The technical feasibility of the project can be strongly impacted by complex interfaces of the ERTMS subsystem with the rolling stock and the interlocking. Also, this challenge grows due to the non-availability of product documentation to facilitate the interfacing.
  2. During the implementation of ERTMS, other renovation projects are conducted, such as the upgrade of other assets. These works add to project complexity and therefore increase project risk.
  3. High costs of the system both for trackside deployment and retrofitting.
  4. Some ERTMS Tenders failed because there were no offers received or only one. There are also examples of cases when all received offers exceeded the budget. With regard to ERTMS trackside deployment, demanding requirements in many public procurements resulted in lengthy tenders and delays in project delivery.
  5. Tendency for initial ERTMS suppliers to usually become lifetime suppliers for technical reasons.
  6. Lack of sufficient coverage of the railway infrastructure network with ERTMS: this forces RUs to equip and maintain numerous systems on their vehicles, resulting in additional costs.
  7. Lack of long-term national perspective and stability of funding which affects deployment and building up of industrial capacity. Furthermore, changes in national ERTMS deployment strategies affect both ERTMS trackside deployment and onboard retrofit projects. Additionally, changes or delays in ERTMS deployment strategies for the different networks have a substantial impact on the deployment plans for the operating fleet and the neighbouring networks. In addition, changes in deployment or retrofit strategies in the fleet could strongly affect the strategy of the networks where this fleet operates.
  8. National technical requirements (NTR) create 'ERTMS systems with national flavour' that are not compatible with each other – the European Railway Agency is working together with the Member States to eliminate NTRs.
  9. Ongoing maintenance and upgrade provisions are often not included in commercial arrangements and there is a lack of maturity of specifications.
  10. Industry-wide shortage of skilled staff which may impact the ability of projects to recruit and retain the required qualified staff quickly. Additionally, some projects are affected by the lack of product availability.
  11. Severe project delays associated with authorisation procedures for onboard projects: this applies not only to new development, where new design is necessary and prototypes are required, but also to upgrades of already equipped vehicles.
  12. Errors are still found during final testing. The fact that these problems are encountered just before placing in service often results in major delays and cost overruns. The impact of errors could be mitigated if they are systematically detected by suppliers during the verification and validation processes.
  13. Financial means, provided by the Member States, are not sufficient; therefore, EU contribution plays an important role. The EU commitment to support ERTMS is clear if we consider the substantial investment of EU funds for the installation of interoperable ERTMS to date.
  14. Different parts of the network may have different technical specificities, and they might also have different operational requirements.

Mitigation measures and, when possible, solutions have been included in the updates of the European legislation through the fourth railway package and the 2019 CCS TSI. Additional work is ongoing in the 2022 TSI revision, focusing on these challenges and actions included in the ERTMS Action Plan.