The introduction of ERTMS is associated with the risk that customers may experience major disruption or that its implementation may not lead to the expected results. Replacing the train safety system on the Dutch railways is a major and complex programme, which will affect the performance of NS. The roll-out will take a number of years. During this period, both the traditional safety system ATC (automatic train control, improved version) and ERTMS will have to be used in parallel.
The ERTMS programme is very complex, as it comprises technical, operational and organisational elements. The introduction of ERTMS in the Dutch rail sector (NS, ProRail and other carriers) is being coordinated by programme directors who were installed by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management at ProRail. The implementation of ERTMS on the Dutch railways affects both carriers and the infrastructure operator. Both the infrastructure and the trains have to be modified to make sure that ERTMS can be implemented. ERTMS will be rolled out and ATC removed per track section. The current ATC train safety system will remain in use during the roll-out, until all track sections have been equipped for ERTMS, in around 2050. Over the next few years, ERTMS will continue to develop as a European train safety system. The risk lies in the fact that the modifications are comprehensive in nature and none of the parties involved have ever done this before.
NS is making careful preparations for the introduction of ERTMS in close collaboration with the ERTMS programme directors, ProRail and the other carriers. The replacement of ATC by ERTMS on the first track section – currently planned for around 2028 – will be preceded by a migration action plan, to which a test track section has been added. Considerable time has now been reserved for tests compared with the previous timetable. What is more, various other measures suggested by NS to mitigate lower operational performance or unacceptable disruption for customers have been included in the proposed programme decisions. One of the key points is that the ERTMS programme directors are taking responsibility for minimising disruption to customers.
Risk control trend
The measures that have been taken have reduced the risk of disruption for customers. The risk that the implementation of ERTMS may not deliver the expected results has now been worked out in more detail by NS in partnership with the sector.