Siemens consortium wins €510m Spain signalling deal

A Siemens/Thales consortium has won a €510 million contract from Spanish Track Authority ADIF to install and maintain signalling, train control and communications systems on the 340km Olmedo-Ourense high-speed line.

Siemens will provide interlockings, Spain’s ASFA train control system and control centres, with Thales supplying European Train Control System Level 2 equipment, LED colour light signals, wheel detectors and axle counters, and fixed communications equipment.

The route connects with the Madrid to Valladolid high-speed line at Olmeda and forms part of a corridor connecting Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria, Castile and Leon with Madrid.

Alstom supplies ERTMS to Romania

An Alstom led consortium is to supply European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) equipment for Romanian National Railways (CFR)’ 170km Sighișoara-Coșlariu-Simeria route.

Alstom’s Atlas 200 ERTMS Level 2 signalling will be installed and linespeeds on the line will rise from 120km/h to 160km/h as part of the ongoing modernisation. Alstom will also supply a dual-mode Coradia Polyvalent train to test the installation. Work is due to be completed before the end of 2019.

The consortium includes Alcatel Lucent Romania and Pas 97 Impex and although the total value of the contract has not been disclosed Alstom says its share is worth around €100 million. Alstom’s ERTMS projects now cover 12,500km of track and it has fitted more than 4,600 vehicles with its onboard equipment.

Big signalling deals in Spain and Morocco

Major new signalling contracts have been signed this week, marking a real breakthrough for Spain’s CAF Signalling and the introduction of GSM-R to Morocco.

In Spain, a CAF Signalling led consortium is to install European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) Level 2 and Spanish ASFA signalling on the Tarragona to Vandellos part of the Mediterranean Corridor and the connection with the Madrid-Barcelona-Perpignan high-speed line. The contract is worth €98.6 million and also sees fixed telecommunications, centralised traffic control and other safety systems installed. A 20-year maintenance deal is also part of the contract.

In Morocco, meanwhile, state operator ONCF is about to start rolling out GSM-R with the award of a €30 million contract to a consortium of Thales, Huawei, and Italian company Imet. The consortium will install GSM-R on five routes with a combined length of 712km. The under construction Tangiers to Kenitra high-speed route is included within this.

Thales will manage the project, Huawei will provide its GSM-R and networking equipment and Imet is responsible for site design and construction.

Alstom-Bombardier-Indra consortium wins Spanish HSR signalling contract

Spanish track authority ADIF has awarded a €410 million contract to supply and maintain European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) Level 2 signalling on the new North-West high-speed line to a consortium of Alstom, Bombardier and Indra.

The contract, whose maintenance element lasts for 20 years, covers the 310km of new high-speed railway from Valladolid to Leon, and Venta de Banos to Burgos. The consortium is responsible for design, procurement, installation and commissioning of the signalling, fixed and GSM-R telecommunications, Automatic Train Protection, centralised traffic control, security, and infrastructure for trains and mobile telephone operators.

It will be Spain’s second ERTMS Level 2 installation without ERTMS Level 1 backup, which Alstom claims offers a ‘significant reduction in the initial cost of civil works’.

Will train integrity issues stall ETCS Level 3?

Ensuring that train consists remain intact is a cornerstone of signalling. Accidents have happened (and doubtless will continue to do so) when trains split unintentionally – but for signalling engineers across the rail industry, providing the planned radio based, moving block ERTMS Level 3 system with sufficiently robust train integrity measures is proving a real headache.

Years ago it was simple – tail lights on the last vehicle of a train would prove to a lineside signaller that the train was intact and that the preceding section could be cleared. Track circuits and axle counters provide the same functionality for today’s centralised control centres. But how do you prove a train is intact when there are no fixed block sections and no lineside infrastructure?

In theory, when a train splits accidentally, brakes are automatically applied and the vehicles come to a stand, usually not too far away from each other. But no signalling designer in the world would rely on that for ERTMS Level 3: the old axiom that anything that can go wrong will applies particularly to signalling – who would really guarantee that all the vehicles in a formation would come to a halt relatively close to each other? And what if an unbraked train (perhaps a failed high-speed train being towed to a depot) splits? How could ERTMS Level 3 deal with it?

Perhaps we need to look at radio transponders on each vehicle that communicate with the control centre – any significant variation in speed between vehicles in a consist would be spotted and the appropriate alerts given. That would be viciously expensive though, and what about freight trains that are marshalled en route? Could there be some sort of ERTMS ‘tail light’ that provides confirmation that the end of the train is where it’s supposed to be? As with tail lights on existing trains, how could relocating the equipment to the rearmost vehicle be guaranteed?

These are all questions that are going to have to be answered before ERTMS Level 3, with its potential for absolutely maximising route capacity, can go forward with confidence. To judge from the experience of railway history, a solution will be found and it will probably be conceptually very simple. The question is – with sufficiently intelligent design, can ERTMS Level 2 deliver most of the benefits of Level 3 without introducing yet another layer of complexity to a signalling system which is beginning to match the expectations of its designers? Perhaps the exhibits at InnoTrans in Berlin will shed some light on this fundamental issue…

Morocco awards HSR signalling contract

An artist's impression of an ONCF high-speed train

An artist’s impression of an ONCF high-speed train.

Our friends at International Railway Journal report that Moroccan State Railways (ONCF) has signed a €120 million contract with Ansaldo STS and Cofely Ineo to design and supply ERTMS Level 1 and 2 signalling, telecommunications and train control systems for the country’s 183km Tangiers-Kenitra high-speed railway.

The massive project is due to be complete in 2015 and is based on infrastructure and rolling stock technology already proven in operation in France.