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Feasibility Study for the formal specification of ETCS functions

The ETCS system is now defined in a set of specifications that are referenced in the Technical Specifications for Interoperability for the Control-command and Signalling sub-system.

The specifications have required a “consolidation phase”, with different corrections and improvements. Today the implementation of ETCS is in progress, however the consolidation phase cannot be considered fully completed, because of:

  • The complexity of ETCS, that makes unavoidable the need of clarifications and corrections,
  • The progressive widening of the application of ETCS to networks with different characteristics, with consequent demand for additional functionality.

It must also be noted that the achievement of interoperability requires a common understanding of the specifications by all involved parties (the railways companies, ordering and installing products, and the suppliers, designing and manufacturing them): in other words, a statement in the specifications, which could be interpreted in different ways, is a source of possible problems.

The ERA has therefore decided to investigate the possibility of developing a system (hardware and software tools) which supports the transparent management of ETCS specifications, allowing:

  • identification and correction of errors and ambiguities (e.g., statements possibly leading to prejudice for the efficacy and the safety of operation),
  • early verification of modifications and functional extensions.

The study was tendered in 2007 (ERA/2007/ERTMS/OP/01 - all information about this call for tender can be found in the “Procurement” area of this web-site) and was awarded to RINA SpA with Fondazione Bruno Kessler and Dr. Graband and Partner GmbH as subcontractors.

The study has given positive results about the feasibility and a tool has been prepared; it is the intention of the ERA to put such tool at disposal also of the experts of the railway sector.

Additional information can be found via

Training on the use of the tool has been carried out in October and November 2008.

The following presentations have been given in a two days theoretical introduction:

The theoretical training has been followed by three one week hands-on sessions supported by the following presentations:

The training has been attended by about 25 experts from railway companies and suppliers of signalling systems.