Cookies and We use cookies to give you the best experience on our website. If you continue, we'll assume that you are happy to receive them.
You can read more about how we use cookies, and turn them off, on this page.

  • European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS)

  • Get the Flash Player to see this player.

    In-cab signalling system. How it works - computer generated flythrough

  • On Schedule

    This tried and tested system will replace traditional railway signals with a computer display inside every train cab, reducing the costs of maintaining the railway, improving performance and enhancing safety.

    It will offer a host of benefits to the railway and the application of its cab signalling component, the European Train Control System, ETCS, will spell the end for traditional signalling.

  • How does it work?

    Instead of lineside signals, a computer in the driver's cab controls the speed and movement of the train, whilst taking account of other trains on the railway.

    Taking control

    By bringing the control system inside each individual train, ERTMS allows specific customised control. This allows the drivers to always run at the optimum safe speed helping more trains run faster and recover from delays quicker.


    More trains, better services

    Installing ERTMS across the country as signalling becomes life-expired will save an estimated 40 per cent over conventional systems. Each train will run at an appropriate safe speed, allowing more trains onto the tracks. ERTMS will improve train performance and reduce energy consumption.


    We're carrying out testing on part of the Hertford Loop, north of London, using a converted former passenger train. This will trial four suppliers’ technology and will help us decide which contractor is best suited to work with us installing ERTMS on the Great Western and East Coast Main Lines in Control Period 5 (2014-19).


    Bespoke system

    Although still operating under the umbrella term of ERTMS, we're creating our own traffic management system to optimise performance.

  • Timeline

    Updated timeline 

    1. 2013 - Testing begins at the ETCS National Integration Facility (test track on the Hertford loop)
    2. 2017 - ETCS level 2 overlay solution installed on Western from Paddington to Heathrow allowing Crossrail ETCS to run
    3. 2019 - ETCS level 2 overlay complete on Western from Paddington to Bristol (signals removed by 2025)
    4. 2018 - ETCS level 2 overlay from King's Cross to Wood Green area (signals removed in 2020)
    5. 2018 - ETCS level 2 with no signals from Moorgate to Drayton Park
    6. 2020 - ETCS level 2 full solution (signals away) on the East Coast Main Line from King's Cross to South Doncaster
  • Image gallery

    A train passing a railway communications system mast

    A driving cab fitted with ERTMS - the screen is in the centre

    A signaller training on the new controls for the Hertford National Integration Facility at King's Cross signal box

    The driver of a Class 158 on the Cambrian with the ERTMS screen - aka Driver Machine Interface - showing target speed


    The ERTMS test train under development at Asltom's Wembley facility