ERTMS for the “Black Fleet” in the Netherlands

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Heritage Operations Group:

Recently the national ERTMS project team in Holland NL organised a presentation by several industry parties about their ideas for a low-cost ERTMS solution for our “Black Fleet”. This as an extension of their ideas for the “Yellow Fleet” (contractors). This provided some interesting insights. Not all invited industry parties did participate, but those that did showed an interesting similarity in their approach.

The general idea was that the rather classical performance (top speed, acceleration, braking) of heritage stock were such that almost all the parametrising could be reduced to a few essential parameters. This would take away most of the – high – certification costs. Wise choices in vehicle equipment (like inertial positioning instead of radar) and not integrating the extensions for existing national systems (“STM’s”) would also reduce costs. Not including these STM’s could however require that a change between ERTMS and national system might require stopping for several minutes. This could be a barrier, depending on how ERTMS is implement in a specific network.

One developer however seems to circumvent this problem by a much more software-basedapproach to the on-board-equipment, using industry-standard hardware that is also much smaller than the presently known installations, with a big role for “apps”, “online updates” and “network linked equipment”. They describe their ideas on their website: https://www.thesignallingcompany.com/read-our-story/

A third idea was fitting ERTMS to an unpowered wagon, like a luggage van, with fitting just the essential antenna and the Driver Interface to the locomotive (permanent or temporary). One installation could then serve a range of locomotives. It would be more difficult to use this idea with multiple units. 

All presenters were receptive to heritage operators with well- equipped workshop doing much of the engineering and construction themselves, thereby reducing costs. Even the name of a well-known Swedish furniture warehouse was whispered.

The conclusion after the meeting was that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. But, much more important, the industry waking up to the necessity of solutions for a wide range of existing vehicles and a massive reduction of the costs for certification. As certification is done per type, these would weigh extremely heavy on one-of-a-kind vehicles, like much heritage stock. It was agreed to continue the meetings between ERTMS project team and HRN, to find the most effective way to use the financial support promised by the ministry for fitting ERTMS to heritage vehicles.

You can ask your national member of the Heritage Operations Group for the full summary of the meeting, or else ask its secretary ([email protected]). 

Andres Wedzinga

Heritage Operations Group

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