European Train Control System (ETCS)

With its decision to opt for a standard train protection and control system, Europe has paved the way towards future-orientated, interoperable rail transportation. Promoted by politicians and pushed ahead by railway authorities and leading suppliers such as Siemens, a network of ETCS-equipped lines is evolving in Europe. Europe is thus growing together and the world is opening up; in the meantime, ETCS has developed into a global standard. Siemens offers its customers optimized ETCS solutions from a single source.

Trainguard for ETCS

In addition to GSM-R, the mobile communications system for railways, the standardized ETCS is part of the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) and enables the standardization of numerous national train control systems. ETCS is the basis for interoperability between on-board and lineside equipment. As one of the pioneers of ETCS, Siemens offers mature, tried-and-tested systems and products for individual applications and a scalable system of lineside, on-board and communication equipment. Trainguard®  is the Siemens solution for ETCS, the standard European train control system.

Trainguard offers unlimited interoperability across national borders. Siemens has already impressively demonstrated the real-life interoperability of its on-board equipment in different combinations with other manufacturers’ lineside equipment. Trainguard is based on a high-performance platform which provides reserves for future applications, offering various functional configuration options in line with the different ETCS levels.

Siemens also offers GSM-R and TETRA radio systems for ETCS for rail projects worldwide. Technical compatibility of the Trainguard solutions for the different ETCS levels is a guarantee for interoperability beyond system boundaries and national borders.

The Trainguard train control system can be used for lines

  • which are to be equipped with intermittent train control for operational reasons

  • on which international and interoperable rail services are to operate

  • on which the safety level has to be increased

  • on which older systems are to be gradually phased out

  • on which intervention in existing signaling systems is to be minimized

As a full-scope supplier for ERTMS, Siemens has unique competence in the rail sector worldwide. All ERTMS/ETCS activities are controlled from its centers of competence in Madrid, Berlin, Chippenham and Braunschweig. It is here that our experts come up with on-board and lineside products and systems for customers around the world.

Trainguard 100 – the solution for ETCS Level 1 applications

Trainguard 100 transmits the information required onboard trains to the on-board antenna via lineside balises. The variable track vacancy detection information is transmitted via the interlocking to signals and picked up by the LEU component of ETCS. The LEU translates this information into the ETCS language and forwards it to trains via transparent balises. Fixed balises serve to transmit non-variable data, e.g. position information and track parameters.
Operation without lineside signals is also possible if the LEU receives the signal aspect from the interlocking and forwards it to the transparent balise. In Level 1, movement authorities can also be issued over several sections, enabling high-performance Level 1 operation at speeds of up to 350 km/h.

The cab display continuously indicates the permitted speed and the line profile ahead to the driver. In addition to information about his driving strategy in the line section ahead, the driver is provided with information about speed restrictions and other operational and ETCS-specific data. Once the maximum permitted speed is exceeded, the driver initially receives a visual and audible warning signal. If he fails to respond, the train is decelerated to the permitted speed. Ahead of danger points, if the braking curve is exceeded, Trainguard ensures graded braking (service braking, emergency braking). Additional infills permit semi-continuous train control which means that the currently indicated signal aspect becomes effective even before the signal is passed. This is done either intermittently by means of Eurobalises or continuously using the Euroloop. Migration can take place in parallel to existing legacy systems (Class B systems).

Limited Supervision (LS) mode enables rapid migration in the event of restricted functionality. The ETCS Level 1 LS solution is a cost-optimized option for launching ETCS.

Trainguard 200 – the solution for ETCS Level 2 applications

The key feature of ETCS Level 2 in contrast to Level 1 is the fact that information which is required for safe running on a certain line section is transmitted by radio to the train from an RBC (radio block center). GSM-R, the digital mobile communications system for railways, is used for this purpose (outside Europe, other radio systems can be used as an option, e.g. TETRA). Therefore, only fixed balises are then needed to determine the train’s position and to forward non-variable track data.
Signals can continue to be used for mixed operation or as a fall-back level although they are no longer required for pure Level 2 operations. Track vacancy detection information and information about point positions is transmitted from the associated interlocking to the RBC which, on this basis, generates the movement authority and sends it to the ETCS on-board unit. Line throughput is considerably increased. Driving “on electronic sight” through several section blocks enables short headways at maximum speed.

Trainguard 300 – the solution for ETCS Level 3 applications

It is particularly due to the fact that track vacancy detection components are no longer needed that a cost benefit is generated in ETCS Level 3. There is also the possibility of fixed-block or moving-block operation. In Level 3, which is currently not standardized, Siemens can use its full system competence since on-board equipment, rolling stock and lineside solutions are developed from a single source.
In Level 3, trains actively participate in route protection and have to reliably indicate their integrity to the RBC. The RBC is thus capable of optimizing train traffic. With Trainguard 300 ETCS Level 3, Siemens offers applications on a European and global scale.