Deployment of ETCS in Switzerland progresses well
The nationwide installation of the European Train Control System (ETCS) in Switzerland progresses according to plan. In this way, the classic Swiss railway signalling system (approach signal and main signal) is gradually made redundant along the railway lines.
From 2018, ETCS Level 1 will be in operation on all Swiss standard gauge railway lines, on the north-south-axis even earlier, from end 2015. Yet, the BAV (Swiss Federal Department of Transport) is already preparing for the next level: the gradual and nationwide deployment of ETCS Level 2 from 2025 onwards.
According to BAV, there are already 3 lines operating on ETCS Level 2 today: the new railway line from Mattstetten – Rothrist, the upgraded line from Solothurn – Wanzwil as well as the Lötschberg base tunnel. In conjunction with forthcoming replacements of interlockings along the railway line of the Rhone Valley, ETCS Level 2 will also be gradually introduced in this area (first section Pully – Montreux) from 2015 onwards in order to gain more experience and know-how with the new system. The same applies to the southern access to the Gotthard base tunnel between Pollegio-North and Castione-North which will be equipped with ETCS Level 2 at an earlier stage, analogous to the north access.
Unlike Level 1, Level 2 works without the classic signalling system (approach signal and main signal) along the line. Essential information – e.g. train speed on the line section – is transmitted directly via a screen to the train driver in the cabin.
ETCS Level 2 is required for speeds of 160 km/h and more, respectively shorter intervals between trains. Nonetheless, also below 160 km/h the new railway system is more steady and economic than the classic system since less optical signals, cables or other components within the track area require maintenance.
The reduced time table will be maintained until the change of the time table on 11 December. All affected railway undertakings (RUs) were officially informed and are involved in the current time tabling process. For the RUs, this means that no renewed modifications are needed for the time of the planned renovation works.
The introduction of ETCS faced many problems in the beginning. Meanwhile, the system seems to have proven itself.