Communication between computer-controlled signal boxes and train drivers is essential to maximise rail safety. The roll-out of the ETCS Level 2 system across the Belgian railway network provides train drivers with a highly reliable tool which enables them to do their work safely.

The ETCS, which deals with all signs, not just stop lights, exchanges data with the train’s on-board computer. It monitors the train’s speed, and sends warning signals to the driver. The system can also control the train remotely, automatically braking the train if it is travelling too fast, for example.

Optimal communication between signage and driver

There are 3 levels to the ETCS. Level 1 has already been installed. It continuously monitors the train’s speed, and can perform an emergency stop if the driver passes a red light. It also forwards all signalling information to the on-board computer of the train, and can even correct any driver errors by automatically adjusting the speed of the train when approaching a red light. Belgium is one of the first European countries to have installed this system.

After implementation of the TBL1+ beacons is completed, a start will be made on installing the global ETCS, a process which will last until 2022. By 2025, ETCS will serve as a standard for all operators on the Belgian rail network.

A homogeneous version of ETCS level 2 can be used in a subsequent phase, probably in 2030, which will improve communications between the signalling system and the train.

ENGIE Fabricom’s role

For this assignment, we have set up a temporary joint venture with Siemens.

ENGIE Fabricom’s teams tasks include:

  • installing all material on and around the tracks.
  • replacing the 360 old signal boxes with 30 new models that are more reliable and safer.
  • the cabling for the ETCS system.
  • all signs along the tracks, including red lights.