ERTMS GSM-R & Signalling Troubleshooting Guide

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ERTMS Systems Performance Challenges and the Case for a Combined Approach to Analytics, Diagnostics and Troubleshooting

The Benefits of Digital Rail

In Europe and around the world, rail organisations are looking to Digital Rail to help them increase capacity, run faster, safer trains more efficiently, and reduce costs.

On 10 May 2018, Mark Carne, Chief Executive of Network Rail, said:

“Transforming our railway into the digital age offers the chance to deliver huge benefits for our passengers and the freight that this country depends on…
New digital signalling offers a cost-effective alternative that supplies significant benefits for rail users: More capacity, speed and reliability…
Over half of Britain’s analogue signalling systems with lineside traffic lights controlling trains will be replaced within the next 15 years, with the aim to see 70 per cent of journeys benefit from digital railway technology.”

But what do we mean by Digital Rail? For passengers, they may see it as the ability to use mobile devices continuously on-board or the provision of apps to find and book tickets, for example. For anyone responsible for or involved in rail network operational performance, Digital Rail is synonymous with ERTMS (the European Rail Traffic Management System), the systems that underpin train control and traffic management.

The ERTMS Environment & Challenges

This paper looks to examine three key challenges faced by those responsible for ERTMS systems performance and operations and proposes ‘what good looks like’ to mitigate them.

The ERTMS environment consists of three parts:

  • GSM–R for rail telecommunication
  • European Train Control System (ETCS) for signalling
  • European Train Management Layer (ETML) for passenger and fleet management

Delivering Digital Railway’s benefits, such as greater capacity and lower costs, relies on the smooth and continuous operation of GSM-R telecommunications, and the ETCS signalling networks and interlocking systems, that make up ERTMS.

Under full Level 2 ETCS, train movement authorities and other signal aspects are monitored continually by the radio block centre using trackside-derived information and transmitted to the vehicle continuously via GSM-R together with speed information and route data. Apart from a few indicator panels, it is therefore possible to dispense with trackside signalling. However, the train detection and the train integrity supervision still remain in place at the trackside and balises are used as passive positioning beacons or “electronic milestones”.

When something goes wrong with any of these three systems, the result can be frustrating and expensive for passengers and rail organisations alike. For example, according to the data of a tier 1 railway operator in Europe, every minute late beyond the agreed tolerance level, corresponds to a 6000 € fee.

>> Read the full paper

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