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>> the troubled Level 2 ... In the past year, at last it gained some stability in regular use on three Italian lines

This system already got earlier the stability for regular use since the worlds first successful ETCS Level 2 operation was installed in Switzerland on the line Zofingen - Sempach. Between April 2002 and November 2003 all train on the line used ETCS Level 2. There were more than 1000 trains every week of all categories (express, freight, maintenance, etc.) using the system. It was more reliable than the average signaling system in use in Switzerland. Most of the delays were caused by engineer not really familiar with the registration procedure when entering the ETCS 2 signaling route. The equipment was supplied by Bombardier, but the installation had to be removed since the ETCS system specification was upgraded and made the system incompatible to the ETCS system to be introduced on the new line Mattsteten - Rothrist.

Beside the already mentioned Italian high-speed lines it is also in use on the following lines in Switzerland:

New Line Mattsteten - Rothrist with upgraded line to Solothurn, Switzerland (part wise in operation since 2006, full operation since December 2007)
The introduction of full ETCS level 2 operation on this line was delayed by 3 years since the project was carried out by Alstom. This company did not have any experience with the system and its commissioning at this time. Therefor a lot of experiences Bombardier already made on the Zofingen - Sempach line had to be repeated by Alstom

Lötschberg Base Tunnel (full operation since December 2007)

The main problem of ETCS  introduction is basically the very complicated verification of correct function of the software. Furthermore the functionality of the system was several times upgraded to meet requirements of the operation like ETCS supervised supply voltage system change on the Belgian high-speed line or ETCS supervised backwards driving in the Lötschberg Base Tunnel.

The continuous upgrade of the specification and the complexity of testing made the manufacturers leaving away all functions not really required for the intended ETCS use on the railway vehicle. This led to the situation that ETCS equipped vehicles can only operate on the ETCS route for which they have bee designed for and not every where were ETCS of the proper level has been installed. This fact the engineers realized very early but not all the managers.

by pcrail on Sun Dec 13th, 2009 at 07:02:25 PM EST

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