All organisations and parties in the railway sector will be introduced to ERTMS. They must prepare their systems, organisations and people for a different work method. In the Netherlands alone, this concerns over one thousand trains to be converted, over 15,000 railway professionals whose work will change, hundreds of kilometres of fibre optic cable to be laid and thousands of beacons in the track to be installed.
Renewing while keeping the trains running
While we prepare the Dutch railway sector for the arrival of a new railway signalling and speed control system, the existing system needs to remain intact and operational. The assignment of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management to the ERTMS Programme Management states that the Dutch railway network must not experience degraded performance due to the introduction of ERTMS. The railway system must continue to function as it currently does. And must at the same time be renewed. Such an extraordinary situation requires a phased plan.
Ten migration steps at five levels
With ten migration steps at five different levels, we will implement ERTMS in the Netherlands between now and 2031. The implementation seems to be simple: install a box in the train, a box in the infrastructure, a new communication system and use newly trained personnel. But due to the sheer scale, a new system and a different work method, this process requires time and attention.
Preparing management processes and systems
Migration step 1 | Migration step 2
In the current system, railway undertakings and infrastructure managers are used to deal with their own specific domains. Errors can be identified quickly. If a signal is out, then the bulb is defective or a wire has gotten loose. When a train driver runs under ERTMS and does not obtain permission to drive, it will however not immediately be clear why.
In order to solve errors with ERTMS quickly, railway undertakings and infrastructure managers must work together and exchange information more intensively. To this end, we will redesign processes and change systems. This is covered by chain management.
Migration step 3 | Migration step 4 | Migration step 7
We will convert current trains to ERTMS and return them into service where they will run under the current ATB signalling and speed control system. The conversion to ERTMS is already yielding useful information, which allows us to test to what extent the systems work properly and whether the sector can use this information properly.
Trained personnel gains experience with ERTMS
Migration step 5 | Migration step 6
Approximately 15,000 railway professionals need to be trained. This takes time. But it is not practical to train employees now, only to make them wait a few years before working with ERTMS. That is why we use the existing railway sections with ERTMS in the Netherlands to gain experience.
Testing commercial operation with ERTMS
Migration step 8
Once the infrastructure is ready, the trains have been converted and the staff has been trained, we can implement ERTMS in practice. We will install a test section and schedule a long trial period to test if ERTMS works. If any problems still occur, we can fall back to ATB.
Putting the seven railway sections into commission
Migration step 9 | Migration step 10
If the organisation, systems, processes and people have passed all tests well, we will implement ERTMS throughout the country. We will begin with the section Kijfhoek – Belgian border and OV SAAL. The State Secretary made a preliminary decision to also add the Northern lines to the scope of this project. Once this decision is final, these will be the first lines to be equipped with ERTMS.
Process and quality
Every migration step is a big step in realising ERTMS. To manage each migration step, all sub-steps have been defined. To ensure that the quality of the system is good in its entirety, the ERTMS Programme Management will go through the same process for each sub-step. We do this using the V-model for system development.