The first railway line in Croatia to be equipped with European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) / European Train Control System (ETCS) technology has commenced operations in the central European state.

As readers of the rail engineer will be aware after several articles on the subject, whilst initially a European Union backed initiative to improve cross-border system interoperability, the international standards of ERTMS are increasingly being adopted by train operators across the globe to improve efficiency, speeds and safety.

On 19 January 2012, commercial services commenced on the 33.5 km section of the Pan European Corridor X from Vinkovci to Tovarnik, following installation of an INTERFLO 250 ERTMS/ETCS system by Bombardier Rail Control Solutions.

INTERFLO 250 is an ERTMS/ETCS Level 1 solution for main lines (SIL4). This solution comprises all the trackside products required for the route and also includes the Automatic Train Protection (ATP) as well as the ATP system onboard the train. It is commonly applied as an overlay to existing national ATP networks providing higher levels of safety, but providing an economical migration and early experience with ERTMS Level 1 technology.

Increased line speeds

The introduction of the new technology on the Vinkovci to Tovarnik section enables trains to operate at speeds of up to 160 km/h, from a previous maximum line speed of 120 km/h.

The route upgrade forms part of an extensive programme of network modernisation being undertaken by Croatian Railways (HZ). In addition to suffering from lack of investment over a significant period during the 1990s, coinciding with the outbreak of war in the former state of Yugoslavia, damage caused as a result of the conflicts also took an expressly punitive toll on the rail network.

Pan European Corridor X was the tenth corridor added to a number of major routes – comprising road, rail and waterways – which, whilst requiring investment, had been identified as being strategically important to the transport infrastructure in Central and Eastern Europe.

The initial 9 routes had been identified in a sequence of Pan European Transport conferences held in Prague in 1991 and in Crete in 1994. A third conference, held in Helsinki, proposed a new Corridor X to link Salzburg in Austria with Thessaloniki in Greece passing through Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Macedonia and Greece and with one of four branches routing to Istanbul in Turkey.

Once the full corridor has been implemented the trade benefits could be significant for Croatia, facilitating considerably shorter journey times for freight transport on the East-West corridor and encouraging a modal shift in favour of rail.

The upgrade of this rail route using the latest ETCS technology from Bombardier will have the benefits of creating an interoperable corridor section that will both contribute to the development of the national network in Croatia and enhance transport links with the rest of Europe.

Within Croatia, the rail corridor from Vinkovci in the east of the country to Zagreb in the west covers approximately 300 km.

Croatian Railways and its infrastructure arm HZ Infrastruktura d.o.o. placed the contract in 2008 for the upgrade of the 33km section to Tovarnik with a consortium comprising Bombardier and SITE S.p.A with SITE responsible for the installation, power supply and telecommunications. The double track route incorporates 3 existing stations and 9 level crossings.

A complex installation

Being the first ERTMS Level 1 project in Croatia, the project presented complex challenges on various levels as Domenico Fraioli, Project Manager for Bombardier Transportation Rail Control Solutions explains:

“This was the first electronic signalling system in Croatia and hence the new technology was unfamiliar to the client. The complexity of the project was compounded by the fact that we needed to design a system that could interface between the old level crossings and the new electronic systems. For cost reasons, the customer was keen to retain and modernise the existing crossings rather than introduce completely new equipment”.

The project has ensured the introduction of the latest generation EBI Lock 950 computer-based interlocking (CBI) system and wayside equipment, and certification of the system for operation in Croatia. This milestone follows the successful delivery of EBI Gate level crossing systems for the same line.

Bombardier installed 3 new EBI Gate 2000 level crossings (one for each station), developing a special interface for the old open line level crossings (EBI Gate 1100) and the EBI Lock. This enabled the existing level crossings to be interoperable with the new generation of signalling.

Interlocking systems

EBI Lock 950 computer-based interlocking systems supervise and control wayside objects, including signals, point machines and level crossing protection equipment.

The interlocking system receives route commands from traffic control centres, or local control systems and sends indications or status reports back. The interlocking system checks that conditions for the commands are fulfilled, locks routes and releases them after the train passes.

EBI Lock 950 systems comprise an interlocking computer, an on-line back up computer and centrally located or distributed object controllers. Object controllers provide the interface to the wayside units and are located with the interlocking computers in racks or cabinets holding printed circuit boards, power suppliers, connectors and cables.

A Bombardier TRAXX F140 MS (multisystem) locomotive, owned by CB Rail, was leased to be used as the onboard unit for the wayside tests. Whilst configured for Germany-Austria-Belgium-Netherlands routes, the locomotive has been used in several countries for testing purposes.

ERTMS solutions

Since the inception of ERTMS, Bombardier, working closely together with UNIFE, has been a leader in the development of the specifications governing the system design and operational characteristics of the ERTMS standards particularly in areas such as balise transmission technology.

Its ERTMS product strategy is based on offering a solution with low life cycle costs to customers. Solutions can be individually tailored to customers’ needs, encompassing integrated control rooms, computer-based interlocking systems, onboard equipment, point machines, signals and level crossings, as well as onboard and wayside automatic train protection (ATP) equipment.

The company’s advanced solutions are now operating or being delivered on more than 2,500 vehicles and 15,000 km of track in 16 countries, including the highest speed ERTMS-equipped lines in China.

In addition, Bombardier has delivered its ERTMS Level 2 solution for the Amsterdam-Utrecht line in the Netherlands, one of the busiest mainlines in Europe, as well as Sweden’s first high speed ERTMS Level 2 line, the Botniabanan, and other lines in Korea, Taiwan and Spain.

As part of extensive framework agreements in Sweden and Norway, Bombardier is delivering further onboard and wayside technology for ERTMS roll-out, including the world’s first Regional ERTMS application – the INTERFLO 550 solution on the Västerdalsbanan. Bombardier has also been awarded contracts for the first ERTMS systems in Algeria, Poland, Brazil and Hungary.

As this latest project has demonstrated, the widespread adoption of ERTMS is paving the way for exciting new rail corridors, contributing to a revitalisation of the rail network across Central Europe to the Balkan states and beyond.