European Train Control System

The “ETCS signal box” – when the train talks to the track.

At present, a large number of different generations of signal boxes are in use in Switzerland. In the future, a centralised European Train Control System (ETCS) signal box will be taking over the checking function for movement authorisations, thus simplifying and integrating the existing signal boxes and Radio Block Centres. The use of a geometric safety logic instead of the route safety logic which has been used until now simplifies today’s complex project planning and also creates more capacity on the network.

The European Train Control System (ETCS) is an Automatic Train Protection system based upon the European standard and a key component of the future unified European rail traffic management system. These new digital assistance systems provide constant communication between the vehicle and the signal box and enable a higher train density by means of technology which permits more precise and flexible control. They also deploy new technologies, allowing a significant reduction in the costs of automatic train control to be achieved.

ETCS allows the speed of trains to be controlled at any time (online), which permits very precise and continuous control of train traffic flows. This new capability will be exploited to the maximum degree possible by the planned “ETCS signal box” to permit improved safety combined with greater train density. In the long term, this control process will require significantly fewer systems in the track, thereby reducing track operation costs and fault susceptibility.