Overview of ETCS Level 3 impediments

Author: Mariam Akbari
Day: Aspect Day One
Session: ERTMS Session

Level 3, based on the moving block principle, is the most
promising application level of the ETCS (European Train Control
System) developed since the late 90s, with which the most
benefits related to safety, interoperability, capacity and LCC (life
cycle costs) are expected. However, after more than 20 years, the
deployment of ETCS Level 3 is restricted to pilot projects on
regional lines. In Level 3 the absence of trackside train detection
equipment requires the train information (speed, location,
direction and confirmation of integrity) to be used as the basis of
route setting. This creates the essential difference between ETCS
level 3 and other ETCS levels.The focus of this paper is on the
challenges of implementing ETCS level 3 in brown field
environment. Challenges are divided into 3 (three) main
categories and 5 (five) subcategories: technical (technology,
knowledge), operational (procedures, processes) and budgetary
(LCC) and studied through literature review. The Dutch railway
network is chosen as a case study to examine the deployment of
ETCS Level 3 as a game changer. ERTMS (European Rail Traffic
Management System) specialists are interviewed to determine
and further analyze how the Dutch railways would be influenced
by the above challenges. Our study reveals that the absence of
developed operational procedures is the main hinderance for the
realization of the ETCS Level 3. The operational procedures help
to ensure that functions and requirements related to human
aspect, rolling stock, trackside equipment and maintenance
strategies are properly defined and implemented. Also, the
resilience aspects, including migration strategies and operational
scenarios in case of degraded modes need attention. This is
followed by the budgetary challenges, including short life cycle
and relatively high costs of the onboard equipment.Finally,
expected advantages in terms of capacity and safety are closely
related to the extent to which ERTMS is deployed and
modifications in other network elements and subsystems,
including traffic management are considered. Therefore, the
implementation of merely a moving block Level 3 system without
a holistic change in control & command would not be sufficient to
get expected benefits.