Denmark has been one of the pioneer countries in the renewal of the ERTMS Level 2 signalling system. Six lines, totalling more than 350 kilometres, are already equipped with the system: the EDL (Early Deployment Line) EDL East North, EDL East South and EDL West; and the RO (Roll-out), RO7 East, RO8 West and RO5 West. Ineco has been working with the Danish rail infrastructure manager Banedanmark on the roll-out since 2017, which is expected to be extended to the entire network by 2030.  

ERTMS (European Rail Traffic Management System) is the rail traffic management system that the European Commission is introducing in the nine main corridors of the Union’s territory, where more than 20 different signalling systems operate, which the Commission calls ‘Class B systems’. In practice, this means that whenever a train crosses from one country to another, the locomotive, driver and even the whole train may have to be changed. The solution is a common system, ERTMS, which brings great improvements in railway operation, allowing the internal and cross-border traffic of all trains with greater capacity, more safety and lower costs. 

Denmark, with just under 6 million inhabitants in a territory of about 43,000 km2, has the eighth highest per capita income in the world and an extensive and efficient land transport network –urban, road, maritime and rail– which is in the process of expansion and renewal with an ambitious investment programme. As far as railway is concerned, the network’s operation, with more than 2,600 kilometres in standard gauge (1,435 mm), is liberalised and has both public and private operators. 

Copenhagen central station. / PHOTO_MARTA CARNERO

In terms of infrastructure, the Banedanmark, which reports to the Ministry of Transport, is responsible for managing maintenance, the construction of new stretches and the supervision of safety systems. The improvement and modernisation programmes focus mainly on the complete overhaul of electrification and signalling. According to Banedanmark, “the new signalling systems” –(CBTC, Communication Based Train Control, for the Copenhagen commuter and ERTMS for the national network)– “will cause fewer delays, and will allow an increase in speed and number of trains”, with “an 80% decrease in signalling-related delays on main and regional lines, and a 50% decrease on the Copenhagen commuter lines.”

Jens Holst Møller, chief engineer of Signalling Systems Integration at Banedanmark, explains that “following the renewal of the signalling systems, six lines with a total length of 353 kilometres have been put into commercial operation with ERTMS Level 2.” He also adds that “a new 56-km high-speed line has been built with ERTMS Level 2, although it has been temporarily put into service with a Class B signalling overlay due to operation of trains without ERTMS. This line is planned to be put in service with ERTMS end of 2022”.

The performance of the ERTMS L2 based signalling system is very good and end-users are very satisfied. Jens Holst Møller

According to Holst Møller, “the rest of the lines will have its signalling renewed and put into service with ERTMS Level 2 over the next eight years. The conversion of the national rail network to ERTMS Level 2 is expected to be completed in 2027 in the west of Denmark (Jylland) and in 2030 for the east.” 

A complete system change such as this does not come without its complexities and, according to Banedanmark’s top engineering manager, “the main challenges have been the development of the generic ERTMS applications, both on-board and on-track, as well as the industrialisation of the roll-out.”

In particular, he explains that “the installation of the on-board systems has taken much longer than expected due to development time for the generic onboard system, classical challenges with retrofitment of older rolling stock and slow industrialisation of installation processes,” and, in addition, “a major renewal of the Danish fleet is underway; the installation of ERTMS covers all existing passenger trains that are not due for renewal.” The total number of trains yet to be retrofitted is around 300, of which more than half have already been put into service with ERTMS Level 2. All existing trains will be equipped by Alstom under the on-board equipment contract, but new trains are being supplied with the ERTMS system of the operator’s or manufacturer’s choice.”

Comparison of full ERTMS structure and Class B systems. / IMAGE_INECO

All in all, the bottom line is positive, as Holst Møller concludes: “The performance of the ERTMS Level 2 based signalling system is very good following the completion of the initial stabilisation, and end-users are very satisfied.”

Collaboration between Ineco and Banedanmark

In Spain, Ineco has been supporting Adif and Renfe for many years in ERTMS infrastructure and train-track integration tests prior to the commissioning of new lines and trains. Since 2015, the company has also been in charge of the supervision and monitoring of the ERTMS deployment plan in European corridors. The company’s extensive experience was precisely the reason why the Danish rail infrastructure manager Banedanmark entrusted it with the testing strategy for the commissioning of the system on its network. The first step was two pilot lines, called EDL West and EDL East North. Thus, since the beginning of 2017, Ineco has been collaborating with Banedanmark on the signalling renewal project (Signalling Programme), which includes the installation of ERTMS. 

Within the initial contract (in which CEDEX, the Centre for Studies and Experimentation of Public Works, part of the Spanish Ministry of Transport, was also involved), a generic ERTMS Level 2 test specification was developed for the two pilot lines, based on functional requirements and Danish operational rules and scenarios. Ineco also carried out laboratory testing campaigns and an analysis of the results, while also defining a testing strategy to be carried out for the commissioning of future lines. In March 2018, following the conclusion of the first contract, Banedanmark and Ineco signed a framework partnership agreement until January 2022, when the partnership was renewed again until the end of 2025. 

During these four years, the company has participated in the definition, execution, analysis and reporting of campaigns on lines such as: RO1 East (NLCR, Copenhague – Ringsted), RO4 West (Vejle/Skanderborg – Herning – Holstebro), RO5 West (Langå – Struer – Holstebro), RO7 East (Næstved – Rødby), RO8 West (Struer – Thisted), belonging to both the eastern part (Alstom) and the western part (Thales) as well as in the test campaigns for the new data and generic versions of the RBC of the pilot lines (including the southern part of the EDL East between Køge and Næstved).

Maintenance of the generic test specifications has also been carried out, adapting them to the new functionalities deployed on the lines, whilst support has been provided in updating them to the new version of the European ETCS Baseline 3 Release 2 specifications (SRS 3.6.0).

ERTMS DEPLOYMENT IN DENMARK. In order to tender separately for the supply and installation of the ERTMS/ETCS system, the rail network was split into two: the east side, which was awarded to Alstom, and the west side, which was awarded to Thales; while initially the on-board ERTMS systems of the trains were awarded exclusively to Alstom. / MAP_BANEDANMARK

ERTMS at Ineco, in search of continuous improvement through digitalisation

Silvia Domínguez, telecommunications engineer

Control-command and signalling systems consist of all the on-board and infrastructure equipment necessary to ensure the safe operation of vehicles running on the network. They are therefore the key to the operation of a safe, efficient, interoperable, robust and reliable European railway service.

ERTMS is the signalling standard endorsed by the European Commission. This standard defines the automatic train protection system through the exchange of information between the ERTMS systems installed on the rolling stock and those installed on the infrastructure.

The implementation of the ERTMS system allows a series of improvements in railway operation, such as the interoperability of the different types of trains running on different infrastructures, improved safety levels and improved traffic capacity on railway lines.

Ineco has always been involved in the European projects and working groups that have shaped the ERTMS system, working in collaboration with industry, users, regulatory bodies and safety agencies. We currently lead the management of ERTMS implementation in Europe, participating in the working groups in charge of defining the future of control, command and signalling in Europe. Our company relies on in-depth technical knowledge of the ERTMS system and extensive experience gained in large-scale projects to manage the various ERTMS projects.

New technologies are ready for use in the rail sector with enormous potential to improve passenger and freight services. Digitalisation, together with automation, is the most effective way to increase performance and capacity with less investment in new infrastructure. Thanks to the experience gained and the projects in which the company has been involved, we can say that we are able to take full advantage of the digitalisation of the system and even anticipate the needs of the sector. 

The implementation of the ERTMS system allows a series of improvements in railway operation, such as the interoperability of the different types of trains running on different infrastructures, improved safety levels and improved traffic capacity on railway lines. / IMAGE_INECO

Specific examples related to our ERTMS testing work are the virtualisation of ERTMS test campaigns, their parameterisation and automation in the analysis of results. These optimisations are part of the internal processes of innovation and continuous improvement that we apply to the projects in which we are already carrying out ERTMS tests, both in Spain and abroad: Portugal, Israel, Australia and Denmark.

Ineco has developed the necessary methodologies for the virtualisation of ERTMS test campaigns in order to adapt to the health protection measures resulting from the COVID-19 crisis that make it difficult to be physically on-site. This solution has been achieved through improved execution scenarios: the definition of test cases with alternative locations, the analysis of remote records by ERTMS specialists, as well as increased virtual monitoring of tests. In addition, the virtualisation product for a complete validation of the ERTMS system will minimise the physical presence of expert resources, increasing efficiency and reducing the number of personnel on the train. 

We are also working on improvements not only in the execution of tests, but also in their design and analysis. As part of our project, we have searched for parameters and algorithms to improve the design and planning of tests in order to make their execution much more efficient. We have also developed solutions to automate the analysis of results. The use of machine learning tools has made it possible to study a large amount of evidence accumulated throughout the extensive international experience of Ineco’s ERTMS team, leading to a highly satisfactory result that has made it possible to obtain very significant correlations.

Another crucial aspect is interoperability, which is defined as the ability of a railway system to allow the safe and uninterrupted running of trains meeting the required performance. At Ineco, we are currently participating in different ERTMS design and integration projects in Spain, for new deployments, as well as projects in Israel and Australia.

For more than 10 years, Ineco has been carrying out the technical monitoring of all ERTMS projects financed by the European Commission

For more than 20 years, we have been involved in the development of ERTMS interoperability specifications. Not only did we participate in the first lines of the system deployed in Spain that have been in service since 2006, but for more than 10 years we have been carrying out the technical monitoring of all ERTMS projects financed by the European Commission. This has provided us with a unique system vision for its design and interoperable integration that incorporates the technical vision with its operational concept. We have also developed unique solutions based on our experience: for example, the methodology for assessing the impact of ERTMS on railway capacity. In this respect, it is generally accepted that ERTMS operating levels increase capacity; Level 2 more than Level 1 and Level 1 more than a traditional signalling system such as ASFA (national Class B system). However, following the analysis carried out on the network as part of the ERTMS deployment plan in Spain, it has been concluded that the results are not universal and are related to the type of line.

Finally, it should be stressed that ERTMS is the backbone of railway modernisation, an advantage of which is the possibility of evolution and innovation with a limited economic impact because it is a digital system. The opportunity for this evolution lies in incorporating new technologies and gaining a vision with a wider technical scope than is currently the case, in particular in the interoperable aspects of control, command and signalling systems.

This is therefore an excellent opportunity to establish a single European system, with common functional interfaces and operational concepts to build a future single European railway network and make it internationally known and exportable.

This construction of a modern, harmonised, robust, reliable and interoperable European railway system is the main objective of the ERJU (Europe’s Rail Join Undertakin) initiative, the successor to the previous initiative, Shift2Rail, in which Ineco is actively participating and which is in line with the EU’s Sustainable and Intelligent Mobility Strategy. This also aims to respond to customer needs, maintain safety and digital security, improve operational efficiency and performance, reduce costs, support the competitiveness of the European railway industry and increase the speed of adoption of innovative solutions.