Euro­pean Train Con­trol Sys­tem

Rail (UK) - - News -

ETCS is a sig­nalling sys­tem that re­lies on cen­tral in­ter­lock­ing is­su­ing move­ment au­thor­i­ties (MAs) to driv­ers of trains via ei­ther track­side balises (in Level 1 which usu­ally also has sig­nals) or by ra­dio (in Lev­els 2 or 3). The MA tells the driver how far he can travel (in the same way that a yel­low as­pect tells a driver he can only pro­ceed as far as the next sig­nal).

On-train equip­ment cal­cu­lates how fast the train can go ac­cord­ing to how long its MA is. Cal­cu­lat­ing the speed de­pends on fac­tors such as gra­di­ent, train weight and brak­ing per­for­mance.

In Level 2, track­side de­tec­tion equip­ment such as track cir­cuits or axle coun­ters tells the cen­tral in­ter­lock­ing where the train is.

In Level 3 this is re­moved and the train cal­cu­lates its own po­si­tion. This can be by us­ing odome­ters to mea­sure dis­tance trav­elled and balises placed on sleep­ers to pro­vide fixed ref­er­ence points. At­ten­tion is turn­ing to use sys­tems such as GPS to de­ter­mine po­si­tion.

Ra­dio links come cour­tesy of GSM-R, but more ad­vanced sys­tems are be­ing in­ves­ti­gated to cope with the lim­ited ca­pac­ity avail­able with GSM-R.

Ac­cord­ing to Euro­pean def­i­ni­tions, when ETCS is linked with GSM-R it be­comes ERTMS (Euro­pean Rail Traf­fic Man­age­ment Sys­tem).

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