New funds for ERTMS implementation in the Netherlands, but is it enough?
The European Commission (EC) has amended the Dutch scheme to implement ERTMS on with an additional injection of 21 million euros. With these new funds, the current budget for this initiative is 67 million euros, as the EC mentioned. Already in 2019, however, the Dutch rail industry was saying that ERTMS implementation in the country required at least 90 million euros.
The money, according to the Commission, will be allocated to equipping locomotives running in the country with ERTMS. Moreover, the funds will also cover losses experienced by companies that cannot use the locomotives during the installation process. ERTMS deployment in the Netherlands has been lacking because the Dutch are still holding onto their own automatic train protection system (ATB). This was one of the main points of critique moved against the past State Secretaries for Infrastructure and Water Management by the country’s rail sector.
The EC’s scheme for ERTMS implementation in the Netherlands was first approved in November 2019. Back then, 22,2 million euros were unlocked by the Commission as state aid and an additional 23,8 million euros was financed via the Connecting Europe Facility. Despite the new funds, “the duration of the amended scheme remains unchanged, running until 31 December 2023”, as the EC specified.
ERTMS: the Netherlands is lagging behind
The Dutch rail freight industry is lamenting the deficiencies in ensuring interoperability with the ERTMS implemented in Germany, which would significantly facilitate cross-border traffic. Moreover, the difference between the Netherlands and Belgium in their approach to ERTMS implementation is abysmal. Belgium has already equipped more than half its railway network with the European Train Control System, the core signalling and train control component of ERTMS. On the other hand, only a handful of Dutch railway lines are working with ERTMS.