in brief 

The European Railway Traffic Management System (ERTMS) is a major industrial project developed by eight UNIFE members - Alstom Transport, AZD Praha, Bombardier Transportation, CAF, Hitachi Rail STS, Mermec, Siemens Mobility and Thales - in close cooperation with the European Union, railway stakeholders and the GSM-R industry.

ERTMS has two basic components

  • ETCS, the European Train Control System, is an automatic train protection system (ATP) to replace the existing national ATP-systems;
  • GSM-R, a radio system for providing voice and data communication between the track and the train, based on standard GSM using frequencies specifically reserved for rail application with certain specific and advanced functions. For more information on GSM-R, please click here.

ERTMS aims at replacing the different national train control and command systems in Europe. The deployment of ERTMS will enable the creation of a seamless European railway system and increase European railway's competitiveness.

ERTMS brings considerable advantages

ERTMS brings considerable advantages

  • Increased capacity
  • Higher reliability rates
  • Open supply market
  • Improved safety

Improve cross-border connections

Improve cross-border connections

ERTMS has been designed to be fully interoperable across Europe

Why does Europe need ERTMS?

Currently there are more than 20 train control systems across the European Union. Each train used by a national rail company has to be equipped with at least one system but sometimes more, just to be able to run safely within that one country.

Each system is stand-alone and non-interoperable, and therefore requires extensive integration, engineering effort, raising total delivery costs for cross-border traffic. This restricts competition and hampers the competitiveness of the European rail sector vis-à-vis road transport by creating technical barriers to international journeys. For instance, the Thalys train sets running between Paris-Brussels-Cologne and Amsterdam have to be equipped with 7 different types of train control systems, which brings considerable costs.

A unique train control system for Europe and beyond

As a unique European train control system, ERTMS is designed to gradually replace the existing incompatible systems throughout Europe. This will bring considerable benefits to the railway sector as it will boost international freight and passenger transport.

In addition, ERTMS is arguably the most performant train control system in the world and brings significant advantages in terms of maintenance costs savings, safety, reliability, punctuality and traffic capacity. This explains why ERTMS is increasingly successful outside Europe, and is becoming the train control system of choice for countries such as China, India, Taiwan, South Korea and Saudi Arabia.

By making the rail sector more competitive, ERTMS helps to level the playing field with road transport and ultimately provides significant environmental gains.

Learn more

on the creation of ERTMS

Visit our factsheets section

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ERTMS - The European Traffic Management System