19 March 2018

European Commission Deployment Management Team workshop on ERTMS Business Case

On Monday 19 March, a workshop on ERTMS business case was organised by the Deployment Management Team (DMT), in collaboration with the European Commission, aiming to present the main results of the updated Business Case for the deployment of the ERTMS on the Core Network Corridors.

Karel Vinck, ERTMS European Coordinator, highlighted that this is a crucial time to take action in order to meet EDP’s 2030 deployment targets. Mr Vinck emphasized the importance of the Business Case being an instrument to make the investment on ERTMS more appealing, of which the success, however, fully depends on the number of external inputs received by the stakeholders.

Keir Ficht, Head of C.4 Unit “Rail Safety & Interoperability” at DG Move, echoed Karel Vinck’s statement, stressing that the Business Case plays a key role for the DG move to call for more investments in the future.

The main results of the business case were presented by Nicolas Gohel from the DMT, who mainly focussed on the impact on three different levels: general, economic and social. Following a thorough cost/benefits analysis done for both IMs and Rus, the DMT presented the following main conclusions:

  • In terms of capacity, the impact of ERTMS depends on the technical characteristics of each section of the corridor;
  • ERTMS is an enabler of digitalisation of the railway system (ATO, Level 3, asset management for signalling);
  • ERTMS holds the comparison with other EU infrastructure projects. However, a first return of investment is foreseen as of 2030.

Ian Conlon, Policy Officer of Unit B4 “Financial Instruments” at DG Move, concluded the introduction drawing the following main political conclusions:

  • The Business Case is needed to both justify the way investments have been made and to determine the level of future funding;
  • The positive results show that the main benefit driver is the capacity to deliver supportive interoperability and ensure a smooth and rapid migration from legacy systems at EU level (a systemic consideration for migration is needed though);
  • As for IMs: there is positive case for investments, even though prioritisation of EU funding for ERTMS infrastructure deployment should be focussed on deployment that drives acceleration of interoperability across the network, especially:
    • for investments facilitating the removal of on-board class B systems.
    • for critical parts of the network, such as cross-border sections, which might not be national priorities.
  • Regarding the on-board deployment, it was noted that without a coordinated approach to both trackside and on-board deployment level, benefits are not fully released;
  • At national level, retrofitting proved to be a real bottleneck to the overall deployment;
  • However, there is a strong rationale for EU-level support to remove deployment bottleneck especially for retrofitting and upgrading of on board units to deliver overall systems benefits.  This is particularly the case for international and freight operators.

A special mention was made by Mr Conlon on the key role of the EU in supporting ERTMS in the current (and future) financing period. It was notably noted that:

  • More than €450 million from CEF 2018 Digitalisation, road safety and multimodality have been allocated for ERTMS trackside investments;There are still €250-350 million left from the €1bn financial inst
  • rument budget to be committed and there is concrete consideration to reallocate this money to support notably on-board unit deployment;
  • 2017 Blending call was a success for ERTMS projects overall, in particular for international freight on-board deployment.

At the end of the workshop speakers from RFI (Italy), Trafikverkeht (Sweden), SNCF (France) and Network Rail (UK) were invited to present the current status of ERTMS deployment at national level as well as future challenges.

Léa Paties, from Shift2Rail, was also invited to report on the main updates and future challenges of S2R, notably with regard the Innovation Programme 2 linked to the main game changers (ATO, Level 3, etc.).