UIC support development on European corridors in Central Europe

Posted: 26 March 2009 | | No comments yet

In 1992, the UIC initiated the ETCS project. An EU Transport Conference held in Essen in 1993 and a document published by the Danish transport EU commissioner, was the starting point for considerations on supporting corridors in Central Europe. Mr. Poul Frøsig, the ETCS Project Manager, identified in the Danish press information on an EU conference held in Essen and afterwards via the EU Essen conclusions with the possibility to obtain an EU financial support for early implementations of cross border projects.

In 1992, the UIC initiated the ETCS project. An EU Transport Conference held in Essen in 1993 and a document published by the Danish transport EU commissioner, was the starting point for considerations on supporting corridors in Central Europe. Mr. Poul Frøsig, the ETCS Project Manager, identified in the Danish press information on an EU conference held in Essen and afterwards via the EU Essen conclusions with the possibility to obtain an EU financial support for early implementations of cross border projects.

In 1992, the UIC initiated the ETCS project. An EU Transport Conference held in Essen in 1993 and a document published by the Danish transport EU commissioner, was the starting point for considerations on supporting corridors in Central Europe. Mr. Poul Frøsig, the ETCS Project Manager, identified in the Danish press information on an EU conference held in Essen and afterwards via the EU Essen conclusions with the possibility to obtain an EU financial support for early implementations of cross border projects.

From paper projects towards real ETCS implementation:

Supplied by Mr. Poul Frøsig
In 1994, the UIC, EU and some of the railways initiated a border crossing perspective for having the new unified ERTMS/ETCS system tested and implemented in some countries as a starting point. It was also very clear that the countries should be the smaller ones with a need to upgrade their control systems. The ETCS Vienna-Budapest pilot project was the first result of this early corridor approach.

Similar project descriptions for some other border crossing projects were developed, but due to several aspects, they remained only as paper projects.

UIC initiative for supporting the South East European countries

As the Vienna-Budapest project was progressing, in 2001 the UIC began a new initiative named ‘Implementation of the ERTMS/ETCS and the GSM-R on the Central European Corridors’.

The main scope of this work was in accordance with the decisions adopted at the 2nd Pan-European Transport Conference, held in Crete in 1994, and the 3rd Pan-European Corridor Conference, held in Helsinki in June 1997. The transport corridors were drawn up around the main traffic routes linking Eastern and Western Europe. These corridors will also in the future serve as the main links between the East and the West, and the North and the South for both passenger and freight traffic. It is also on these corridors where the biggest traffic potential for railways lies.
The UIC and the central European railways fully supported the European Union policy.

Maps showing the identified corridors with numbers from I to X have been drawn up and studies carried out have been given as an input to the so-called ‘TINA programme’ (Transport Infrastructure Needs Assessment). These maps should be seen in connection with the EU TEN map valid for the EU member states to have a starting point of creating a European rail system in the infrastructure as well as for the rolling stock. The so-called TSI specifications for the EU directives should be one of the driving factors as they are focusing on the infrastructure as well as on the rolling stock specifications for the future standardised work to be recommended for all future upgrades on the corridors. The backbone of the TEN net was thereby created with the TSI compliant specifications to be implemented in the various projects.

The directive on the conventional rail network was approved in the spring of 2001 by the European Parliament and the development of the TSI specifications for the conventional applications were initiated by AEIF.

The conventional lines for each member state were identified by the member states and included in the TEN map (in green). It was always the intention of the UIC to have a uniform Control Command System with a uniform ERTMS/ETCS-GSM-R System for the two networks (high speed lines (red) and conventional lines (green)) to be covered by the legislation of the EU. Furthermore, the UIC recommended the introduction of the unified Control Command system on the European corridors. There were several reasons for this, including:

  • The mixed train sets and locomotives
  • Cost effective implementation due to standardised systems
  • Interoperability and intraoperability

During this period, the challenge was to use this legal base for the European Control Command System including the ERTMS/ETCS as the starting point for future upgrade work on the corridors in Central Europe.

At a very early stage, the UIC realised the major problem in having different specifications listed in the so-called ‘Annex A’ of the two TSI’s (HS and conventional) and therefore the UIC, in the TSI group, always supported the development towards a unified Annex A for high-speed and conventional applications.

It was also important that in the future ‘new’ member states were to benefit from the experience which the ‘old’ EU member states have gained from their work with the Control Command System. An important example here is the corridor-railway lines and the scheduled expansion of these or their upgrading. The TINA Corridors I to VI and Corridors VIII to X (Corridor VII is the Danube Corridor) were identified. The implementation of the TSI specifications is not only a technical implementation but as well an organisational change in the railway organisations and authorities, and this work was as well considered in the UIC corridor approach.

UIC recommendations for the development on the corridors

The UIC recommended that the countries involved and their rail organisations should recognise the same procedure as the present EU member states do; this means that every future work on a corridor line has to have its starting point in the TSI (Technical Specifications for Interoperability) presently existing.

Previous experience shows that border-crossing projects also have good chances of getting financial support from the EU.

Some border crossing projects were identified, including:

Békéscsaba-Arad (TINA IV corridor line at the Romanian and Hungarian border)

The UIC supported as a first step CFR in developing a strategy for implementation of the TSIs and specifically ERTMS (GSM-R and ETCS). The UIC also advised in the development of the ERTMS implementation plan for Romania.

Katowice-Bohumin (TINA VI corridor line at the Polish and Czech border)

A border crossing project was developed with PKP, CD and the UIC. A project declaration was signed at a high ministry level as well as on railway level and reports have been developed with detailed project proposals.

Corridor X – a central European development

This previous TINA corridor work lead to a similar but bigger initiative on the Corridor X, where a project declaration between Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Hungary and Bulgaria was signed in 2003.

Link to UIC projects and other parties

Within the framework of the three UIC projects for the ERTMS/ ETCS, ETCS-LC (Low Cost) and the GSM-R, a network of contact persons on a broad international and national level has been established. The same persons were also involved in the new development on the TSI conventional rail. Also, the ERTMS/ETCS Low Cost solutions trackside e.g. extended Level 1 or simplified Level 3, could be of benefit to the installation and be a cost saving factor of the ETCS.

Important results were also the establishing of the networking with the various ministries of transport, EU DG Regio as well as with potential funding organisations.

Almost all of the central European countries which agree to participate in the development described above are today EU member states. Croatia will probably join in 2010. The concerned rail network, previously the TINA network, is now part of the TEN-T network.

Status today in Croatia

As a result of this UIC initiative in a corridor perspective, Croatia signed the first ETCS contract for an ETCS Level 1 pilot application. The project is described in the chapters to follow by Croatian colleagues. But I would like to mention one specific topic in relation to this Croatian ETCS Level 1 application.

ETCS Level 1 and Euroloop

To an ETCS Level 1 installation belongs the possibility to install continuous infill as this is very important for countries that have short or no overlaps in the stations. The ETCS specifications and the TSI CCS contains those specifications but there were some outstanding UNISIG specifications. The final specifications for the Euroloop were delivered to ERA by UINISIG at the end of 2008.

The UIC strongly supported this UNISIG finalisation process, e.g. the change of the loop frequency. The UIC established contacts with the international and national frequency allocation authorities etc.

The UIC and Croatia now expect that in the future, the Euroloop application in Croatia can also be included in the EU financing programme. It is important for the Croatian ETCS project to have the infill functionality tested as a part of the pilot application. To follow you will find more details about the Croatian development and the next ETCS project.

The Croatian ETCS application:

Supplied by Ibrahim Muftic

In Issue 1 2009 of Global Railway Review, an article entitled ‘Taking significant steps forward’ written by Mr. Mijat Kurtušić, President of the Management Board of HŽ infrastruktura (Croatian railways network Infrastructure manager), gave an overview of the investment plan for the next five years. Major ongoing and future projects including financing models are presented. One of the biggest ongoing railway projects in Croatia is the rehabilitation of the section Vinkovci to Tovarnik on Pan-European Corridor X which includes a first implementation of ETCS Level 1 system in Croatia.

As it is shown on the Corridor map (see Figure 1), there are three sections of Pan-European Corridors going through Croatia. Pan-European Corridor X is connecting Austria with Greece over Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and Macedonia, with branches connecting Hungary and Bulgaria. Pan-European Corridor V, with its main branch is connecting Ukraine with Italy over Hungary and Slovenia. From Budapest there are two branches of the Corridor V (Vb and Vc) connecting Croatian harbours Rijeka and Ploče on the south.

Those two Corridors have a couple of crossings; some of them are whole sections which belong to both Corridors. In Slovenia, sections between Ljubljana and Zidani Most and between Zidani Most and Pragersko, in total reach a length of approximately 137km and belong to both Corridors X and V1. In Croatia, the section between Zagreb and Dugo Selo has a total length of approximately 20km and is also common for both Corridors X and Vb. It is clear that these two Corridors are closely connected, and it has been taken into further considerations about ETCS implementation strategy.

The section Vinkovci to Tovarnik is placed near the state border with Serbia, and the crossing of the Corridors X and Vc, as shown in Figure 1).

The Project declaration for the installation of the ERTMS\ETCS system in Corridor X
After the Project declaration for the installation of the ERTMS\ETCS system in Corridor X was signed, as it is mentioned in the first part of this article, a couple of project teams constituted of persons delegated by Serbian, Bulgarian, Hungarian, Croatian, Slovenian railway companies and UIC experts, worked on acquiring technical and operational data about the lines and research of possible ETCS configurations.

Automatic Train Protection Systems in the region

Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Macedonia used to have common railway network and railway standards applied. In the 70s, an Inductive Intermittent Train Control System ‘INDUSI I60′ (similar to German PZB) was implemented on most of the major lines. This system is still in use in all these countries. It means that locomotives equipped with the ‘INDUSI I60′ onboard device, is able to run from Slovenia to Macedonia without restrictions concerning train control systems. The system is working well, but it is becoming obsolete and the safety integrity level is low according to the new safety approach at a European level.

Furthermore, in the scope of the development of ERTMS Corridor D, in Slovenia ETCS Level 1 will be installed over the next five years. It comprises all lines of pan European Corridor V in Slovenia, part of which are also belongs to Pan European Corridor X.

In Hungary, a national ATP system EVM and ETCS Level 1 on two first ETCS applications are in use. ETCS Level 2 is going to be installed on the Corridor V in Hungary, on the main axis it is planned to be finished by 2013 and on the branches of Corridor Vb and Vc by 2020. Hungarian ERTMS\ETCS strategies are described in an article in Global Railway Review Issue 1 2009, written by Mr. Peter Toth, Signalling Expert at MÁV ZRt.

In Bulgaria, two systems are in operation; an Ebicab (JZG) version is in use as well as an ETCS operation based on the first versions of ETCS Level 1 (app. year 2000).

In Greece, on the lines of Corridor X according to the plans, the ETCS Level 1 will also be implemented.

Status of the existing infrastructure on the corridor lines in Croatia

The total length of the railway lines on Pan-European Corridor X in the Republic of Croatia amounts to 678 equivalent single track km, where the majority is a double-track line and one part features two separated single-track lines, from Zagreb to Novska via Sisak and from Dugo Selo to Novska. A travelling distance from the Slovenian to Serbian border is approximately 320km. The railway lines are electrified by the 25 kV, 50 Hz catenary system. Stations and interstation sections are equipped with the safety-signalling devices of relay types. All signals are equipped with the automatic train protection system of type ‘INDUSI I60′. There is no CTC installed and the system is managed locally by the signalman located in each station. For communications between a driver and a signalman, an analogue Radio Dispatcher system (RD) is installed along the line and all locomotives are equipped. There is an ongoing modernisation of the telecommunication system where the new fiber-optic cables are layed on the catenary pillows.

Next generation of SDH and IP Gigabit Ethernet devices are installed. Therefore, railway telephony system is renewed with digital PABXs.

Generally, lines are designed for the maximum allowed speeds from 120 to 160km/h. But at present, maximum allowed speeds vary from 60 to 160km/h. More details about the Croatian Railways network can be found in the network statement2.

Existing lines on Corridors X, Vb and Vc in Croatia are conventional railway lines intended for mixed traffic. On Corridor X, designed speeds are up to 160km/h but due to the lack of maintenance the maximum speeds have been degraded.

Railway lines on Corridors Vb and Vc are single track lines.

Implementation of the ETCS in Croatia

In 2005, the Croatian Railways conducted the study for the implementation of ETCS on the main Corridor lines in Croatia.

Considering the main purpose of the lines at present and in the future, the present rolling stock in use, existing safety-signalling systems in use, future investment plans and of course plans of the neighbouring countries about ETCS configuration which will be applied on Corridors Vb, Vc and X, it was decided to go with the application of Level 1 with additional infill using eurobalises and euroloop devices on Corridors X and Vb in Croatia. The Croatian track lay out has normally very short distance to a danger point behind an exit signal in stations.

Some budgetary calculations have been made for equipping the existing signalling system with ETCS for Corridor X at approximately €35 million over the next 5-10 years. Two pilot ETCS sections on Corridor X were proposed end evaluated. Firstly, the cross-border section with Slovenia from Zagreb to the State Border and the second one also as a cross-border section from Vinkovci to the State Border with Serbia. During the execution of the project and according to the Project declaration, it was agreed to propose a similar section on the Slovenian side from Zidani Most to the State border and on Serbian side on the section which will include next three stations from the State border with Croatia.

Data preparation has been made inside the working group together with UIC experts who made a significant contribution. The technical part of the tender documentation has been made according to the UIC draft common template for call for offers ERTMS\ETCS. That was a proposal of ETCS implementation which will be later accepted and taken as an input for signalling solution for the project of rehabilitation of Vinkovci-Tovarnik section.

A couple of changes have been made to the original design. One of them is using a Euroloop device as an infill solution. It had been foreseen to have Euroloops in front of the entry and exit signals to get required performance of the system, at least on the same level we have with existing systems. Unfortunately, it was not allowed to require Euroloop devices in the call for offer, even for the testing, due to the lack of competency on the market. (There is only one producer of the Euroloop device on the market).

First pilot ETCS Level 1 application on the Vinkovci-Tovarnik section

The main goal of the project Vinkovci to Tovarnik to State Border Railway Line Rehabilitation, that is being co-funded by the European Commission through ISPA (Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance), is to rehabilitate a double track railway line on Pan-European Corridor X over a route length of 33.5km to improve the line speed from the originally designed 120km/h (now degraded to 60km/h) to 160km/h and to fulfil AGC standards.

The project is realised through three contracts:

  • Supervision Services for the Vinkovci to Tovarnik to State Border Railway Rehabilitation Project
  • Vinkovci to Tovarnik to State Border Railway Rehabilitation (Civil Engineering, Track and Electrification Works)
  • Vinkovci to Tovarnik to State Border Signalling Rehabilitation

The signalling rehabilitation works consist of:

  • Improvement and restoration of war damaged 3-aspect and 4-aspect signalling for 160km/h train speed and the restoration of Automatic Train Protection (ATP) safety devices
  • Buildings or trackside equipment cabinets required for interlocking and other signalling equipment modules and location cabinets
  • ETCS Level 1 standard to be achieved and overall facilities to be capable of ultimately accommodating ERTMS control
  • Upgrading and restoration of level crossing equipment at 12 level crossings to be suitable for 160km/h operation
  • Restoration of the trackside telephone system infrastructure

In mid-2008, the railway signalling rehabilitation contract was awarded to Bombardier Transportation Italy S.p.A. Unipersonal in consortium with SITE SPA Bologna, Italy in the contract value of 16.411.114,98 EUR (excluding VAT)3.
This first ETCS section in Croatia will be equipped with an INTERFLO 250 system, an ERTMS/ETCS Level 1 solution for main lines from Bombardier uses EBI Lock 950 computer-based interlocking. ERTMS\ETCS Level 1 system is comprised of eurobalises and LEUs of centralised and decentralised type. Eurobalises are also used for infill purposes, placed in front of entry and exit signals on the distances of 500 and 80 meters respectively.

It is considered how the project can be amended with this continues infill functionality as well as to have some rolling stock of the Croatian railways equipped with ERTMS. The level crossings are as well still an open but important point. The GSM-R strategy for Croatia is as well in progress.

Future plans

In the operational programme for transport 2007-2009, instrument for the pre-accessional help issued by the Ministry in charge4, future plans are given. On Corridor X, further sections are foreseen to be equipped with the ETCS Level 1 in the next couple of years: sections from Novska to Okučani, from Novska to Dugo Selo and from Savski Marof to Zaprešić.

The biggest railway project in last couple decades in Croatia is the construction of a new line on the Corridor Vb from Zagreb to Rijeka, and construction of a second track from Zagreb to Hungarian border. The line will be intended for mixed traffic and for speeds up to 250km/h for passenger trains in the latest phase. In the first phase, it will be equipped with conventional signalling devices and ETCS Level 1 system for speeds up to 160km/h. In the next phase implementation of the ETCS Level 2 is foreseen allowing trains to run up to 250km/h.


Figure 1

Figure 1