Hitachi wins €500m Italian contract for ERTMS signalling

  • March 16, 2022
  • William Payne

Hitachi Rail has signed a €500 million framework agreement with Rete Ferroviaria Italiana (RFI) for the design and implementation of the ERTMS (European Rail Transport Management System) digital signalling on 700 km of rail lines across Italy.

The new technology is for advanced digital control of train operations. It will be delivered on rail lines in four Italian regions: around 480 km of rail lines in Sicily, 150 km of former “Ferrovia Centrale Umbra” in Umbria and 80 km of the Roccasecca-Avezzano rail line in the Lazio and Abruzzo regions.

Hitachi Rail is the principal provider in a partnership to deliver the digital signalling programme that also includes Alstom Ferroviaria and Ceit.

The introduction of the system will mean that traffic lights are replaced by on-board digital cab signalling, creating a service that can run with more trains on the line, with increased reliability, and at a greater speed. ERTMS aims to harmonise the different train control systems in countries around Europe, creating a seamless European railway system. This will be achieved by installing a new, automatic train protection system and by introducing GSM-R, a radio system that provides communications between track and train.

The project is the first to be financed by Italy’s National Plan for Recovery and Resilience and aims to support rail interoperability throughout Europe. ERTMS technology has been pioneered on high speed rail lines but this move is an extension of the technology to regional train lines.

ERTMS technology will allow trains coming from neighboring European countries to operate on Italian lines without interruption. It will also enable automatic activation of train safety functions, including emergency braking in case of danger or if trains exceed the track’s line speed. By being able to detect and manage faults it will improve a trains punctuality and reliability.

ERTMS digital signalling system also has a major benefit in reducing the energy footprint of the railway by regulating the speed, acceleration and braking of trains across the 700 km of track covered. Moreover, the technology allows the signalling assets installed alongside the track to be reduced, which helps protect the landscapes that the railway crosses.

Michele Fracchiolla, Executive Officer, Sales & Projects EMEA & Australia, Hitachi Rail said: “We are very proud of this award: the European Rail Transport Management System represents 50% of the first objective set by the European Union for the implementation of technological projects financed by PNRR. “This system clearly indicates the intention to extend the benefits of the high speed technological evolution to other type of lines, particularly to regional transport. These benefits are especially represented by the continuous and complete supervision of the operation of trains, through track side equipment. The system will enhance the safety of the railway and allow digital traffic management systems to enable more trains to run on the network, while improving their punctuality at the same time.”