The need for ERTMS is no longer questioned by any of the parties involved

It is a universal signaling system for conventional lines and for high-speed rail lines (it is mandatory to equip high-speed lines with ERTMS).

ERTMS provides not only interoperability, which is the main objective pursued in Europe, but also economic, social and environmental benefits through time savings, punctuality and reliability. Last but not least, it guarantees safety. The most important train accidents that have occurred in recent years (such as the high-speed train collision near Santiago de Compostela in 2013, which caused the death of 79 people, or the conventional train collision in Buizingen in 2010, where 18 people died) are the type of events that the ERTMS system aims to prevent.

1 Over the last four years significant decisions and important measures have been taken, which will have a long-term impact on the application of ERTMS in Europe and abroad. Europe. The political, legal and financial environment for the ERTMS project has been strengthened and decisive steps have been taken in several Member States, in particular with regard to equipping the lines, both in terms of commissioning – including cross-border services – and publication of bids on a large scale.

Between 2007 and 2013, 7 847 km of track have been contracted (5 691 km of first intervention, 2 058 km of improved track and 98 km of pilot track) and 1 695 locomotives have been equipped (215 with first installation, 860 with adaptation and 620 with improvement) From a political point of view, the White Paper of March 28, 2011 reaffirms and quantifies the objective of modal transfer to rail for freight transport and indicates two important instruments to achieve it: interoperability through ERTMS and corridor development. Identifies corridors as an instrument for the implementation of the core network (action 35): «Create in the context of the” core network “structures of multimodal freight corridors to synchronize investments and infrastructure works and provide support for freight services. efficient, innovative and multimodal transport, including medium and long-distance rail services.

”From the legal point of view, a framework and a timeline have been established for equipping the lines in relation to the ERTMS project by adopting the Plan of European Deployment (EDP) 2 in 2009. In 2012 a Commission Decision3 was adopted requiring the mandatory application of new specifications for more transparent tests and procedures; in particular, referral to accredited laboratories is required. Another major technical milestone was the adoption of the technical specifications of the new standard, ETCS Reference 3, in 20124, which provides the basis for greater flexibility and less costly ERTMS execution.

From a functional point of view, the entry into force of the Rail Freight Regulation5 in 2010 establishes an approach that is complementary to that of the EDP and aims to achieve corridors for competitive freight transport through cooperation at all levels, bands quality standards and harmonization of national standards In addition to these legal acts, in 2013 two ordinary legislative procedures (requiring the approval of both the Parliament and the Council) completed the process started in 2011: the new guidelines on the Trans-European Network of Transport (TEN-T) and the ‘Connecting Europe’ mechanism (CEF). The new guidelines on the TEN-T will provide the revised policy for the next decade and establish a corridor-based approach that will support the coordinated implementation of the network, including the application of ERTMS. The Connecting Europe mechanism will provide the financial framework for the next programming period (2014-2020) and provides for the funding of necessary horizontal projects, such as ETCS. From a financial point of view, the Coordinator welcomes the publication of four calls for proposals in the last four years. In total, € 700 million have been allocated for ERTMS calls from the TEN-T budget (€ 8 billion), to which should also be added the funding released in the cohesion funds. Both financial instruments helped accelerate the implementation of ERTMS during a economic and financial risis (still persistent) in which the intervention of the European Commission is an essential incentive.

The allocated funding also helped accelerate the opening of the rail freight market, of which ERTMS is one of the main technical and operational components. The Coordinator calls on all stakeholders to make a greater effort to prepare for the long-term competitiveness of rail freight transport, the timely realization of the necessary investments and the harmonization, as quickly as possible, of the operating rules of the railway in the European Union. With the latter in mind, there is much that can be done to improve the competitiveness of the railway without higher investment costs.

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