SUCCESS STORIES OF OUR
GREENS/EFA INFRASTRUCTURE POLICY
We succeeded in boosting the use of a European digital rail signalling system: ERTMS (European Rail Traffic Management System).
It consists of two parts, firstly the European Train Control System (ETCS), a standard for in-cab train control, and secondly GSM-R, the GSM mobile communications standard for railway operations. The equipment can further be subdivided between on-board and infrastructure equipment.
ERTMS forms an essential component of priority Community rail projects, garnering 20% of investment from the trans-European network.
Safety concerns constitute one of the major forces for introducing harmonised signalling methods; another major force is the way to a single European railway area. At the moment there are 27 different signalling systems. Once the ERTMS is fully established, it will cut down costs, making it much cheaper to travel by train.
Locomotives which cross EU borders have to be equipped with a variety of on-board systems to be able to process the information transmitted by different track systems. This causes enormous costs.
The new signalling systems will also help to get better train coordination and power management.
Noise can be combated either at the source, where it is produced – e.g. train brakes; or it can be protected against – e.g. by building noise protection walls. The reduction of the noise at the source has always been the Green’s goal.
At the moment trains are most likely to use heavy metal brakes which damage their wheels and also damage the railway tracks. This damage increases the problem of sliding wheels, causing a large increase in noise and eruptions.
New compound brakes can solve this problem. The new brakes (consisting of hard plastics) do not damage the wheels or railway track and thus they enable trains to move more quietly. This upgrade would also save a lot of money that is currently used for the restoration of wheels and railway tracks.
The estimated costs to retro-fit about 500,000 freight wagons Europe wide would be 2 bn euro. Passive noise protection in contrast would cost about 10 bn euro a year – what a profitable investment ‘retrofitting’ would be!