Italy gets 300 million euros for ERTMS implementation
The European Commission (EC) is allocating 300 million euros to Italy for the implementation of ERTMS. As the EC specified, the money will be granted “to railway companies for the acquisition and installation of ERTMS on-board equipment”. Italy plans on implementing the latest version of the system on its rail infrastructure by 2036.
The new scheme will run until 31 December 2026. This new initiative, according to the EC is necessary to achieve efficient interoperability. Moreover, the Commission says these new funds will incentivise companies to invest in ERTMS deployment since they would likely not do it without public financial support.
ERTMS in Italy
As Italian infrastructure manager Rete Ferroviaria Italiana (RFI) mentioned, Italian railways were among the first in Europe to be equipped with ERTMS and ETCS. These systems were implemented in Italy already in 2005 with the Rome-Naples line. As of the end of 2022, 878 kilometres of high-speed rail lines are armed with ERTMS, as RFI stated. The total length of Italian railways, however, is around 20,000 kilometres, meaning that roughly 4 per cent of them are equipped with ERTMS.
For the near future, the EU has set the goal of reaching 1,400 kilometres of Italian railways equipped with ERTMS by the end of 2024. To do this, Hitachi Rail, Alstom, and Ceit have been collaborating with Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane (FS) since March 2022. The companies are working to implement the technology in four regions in the centre and in the south: Lazio, Abruzzo, Umbria, and Sicily.
Recent controversy around ERTMS for rail freight
Recently, the debate surrounding ERTMS implementation in Europe has heated up after the European Rail Freight Association said that it will be difficult to present a business case. This is because, as ERFA underlined, railway undertakings don’t see any financial or operational advantages when it comes to implementing the system. This is also highlighted by the fact that over half of the new rail vehicles put into operation between 2015 and 2019 were not equipped with ERTMS onboard units.