Cab signalling ETCS Level 2 is now in use in Switzerland on lines with a speed of over 160 km/h. In future the system will also be increasingly used across Europe and will simplify cross-border rail traffic.
SBB operates the world's most used and densest rail network. Every day between 8000 and 9000 trains travel along over 3000 kilometres of rail network bringing around 880,000 passengers to their destinations. In addition to this, SBB also transports 150,000 tons of freight on its track every day.
Train safety plays a central role in ensuring that passenger and freight traffic on this densely used network is punctual and safe at all times. At present three systems are in use in Switzerland for train control:
«Integra-Signum»: this warning system sends train drivers distant signals to alert them when approaching a red signal or when they must reduce speed. If the driver ignores a stop signal, the brakes on the train are applied automatically. This system is in use for all main signals across the entire rail network.
«ZUB»: this system supplements Integra-Signum by continually monitoring the speed of the train between the distant and main signals. If the train driver does not reduce speed between the signals, the brakes are applied automatically. This ensures that the train stops before reaching a danger point (e.g. junction).
«European Train Control System (ETCS) Level 2»: with this train control system train drivers are provided with information in their cabs about permission to proceed, speed and the track. This means that, with the exception of a few notice boards, external signalling ceases to be necessary (cab signalling). Train movements as well as the local speed limit, the speed limit for the train, the correct route and direction are all constantly monitored by the control centre.
Currently cab signalling ETCS Level 2 in Switzerland is in use exclusively on lines with a speed in excess of 160 km/h. Consequently, this train control system is in use on the new Mattstetten-Rothrist line as well as the Lötschberg base tunnel. The new line has been operated with ETCS Level 2 since March 2007. This makes SBB the first railway in Europe to have successfully implemented an ETCS Level 2 System in a fully operational rail schedule with train headways of two minutes.
Cab signalling ETCS Level 2 is also in use in the Gotthard and the Ceneri base tunnels.
In future, ETCS Level 2 should both replace and standardise the range of different train control systems in use throughout Europe at both a technical and operational level, which should enable fast, dense, cross-border train management throughout Europe. Over the medium term, it will be employed for high speed traffic, and in the longer term it will be introduced for all European rail traffic. In Switzerland, the Federal Office of Transport (FOT) has, therefore, developed a long-term strategy to wholly convert the rail network from Integra-Signum and ZUB to ETCSll.