Switzerland rolls out new ERTMS plan

Image: Shutterstock. Michael Derrer Fuchs

The Swiss Federal Office of Transport (FOT) updated the country’s strategy for the deployment of the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS). The new programme focusses on implementing cab-signalling with European Train Control System (ETCS) Level 2 and migrating to the so-called Future Railway Mobile Communication System (FRMCS).

The players involved will have to provide their plans on how to carry these initiatives out by 2025. The FOT specified that, when it comes to freight and long-distance trains, the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) are responsible for rolling stock modernisation. In other words, it will be up to SBB to finance the projects concerning these types of convoys.

ETCS Level 2 allows for higher speeds

Currently, the Swiss standard gauge network is mostly equipped with ETCS Level 1 Limited Supervision, as the FOT explained. With this system, train drivers still have to be on the lookout for trackside signals. On the other hand, the cab-signalling system within the ETCS Level 2, which is already deployed on some north-south and east-west axes, displays the information on a screen inside the driver’s cabin. This would allow trains to run faster since the on-board computer continuously monitors the transferred data and the maximum permissible speed.


Moreover, Switzerland is setting the stage for migrating from the Global System for Mobile Communications – Railway (GSM-R) to FRMCS. As explained by the European Railway Agency, GSM-R is nearing the end of its time due to obsolescence risks. This system was designed over 20 years ago and the technology will gradually be phased out over the next decade or so. The International Union of Railways claims that FRMCS will also enable railway digitalisation, as it will process increasing volumes of data.

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Author: Marco Raimondi

Marco Raimondi is an editor of RailFreight.com, the online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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