CZ/SK verze

AŽD has a monopoly on the introduction of ETCS in the Czech Republic. The company lacks experts, the ETCS project is slipping and financial sanctions from the EU are imminent

AŽD has a monopoly on the introduction of ETCS in the Czech Republic. The company lacks experts, the ETCS project is slipping and financial sanctions from the EU are imminent
photo: Archives/Railway
08 / 05 / 2021

The implementation of the ETCS system in the Czech Republic is complicated mainly due to the monopolization of its implementation by AŽD. But how did this company gain a monopoly?

SŽDC was taking into account the situation at that time, in connection with the trends of European railway transport and its safety, many years ago in the past, SŽDC asked AŽD to equip its infrastructure with a security system. Within the framework of good business relations, SŽDC did not pay special attention to one point of the mutual contract, which concerned the ownership of the interface between the individual parts of the security equipment.

In practice, it seems that SŽDC paid for the implementation of the system, but does not own a communication interface between its elements or between the whole units. The device cannot be connected in this way. However, only AŽD has access data, which in this way can influence which of the new suppliers has in the area of the signaling system or does not have access to the railway infrastructure.

Another huge risk is security. The current situation has led to the fact that the Czech infrastructure has been in trial operation for several years. The safety communication between the infrastructure and the ETCS mobile part equipped with rolling stock is still not fully operational. Today, someone does not dare to run ETCS fully without a national system.

How is it possible that SŽDC paid AŽD for the introduction of a system that is still not fully functional and may even be a security risk? According to information from a source in the editorial office, AŽD got into a serious crisis in the area of ​​development. AŽD does not have people who could move the ETCS project further. AŽD thus keeps itself in check. Due to the fact that only AŽD has access to the interface, only AŽD can continue to implement ETCS.

However, the market for the implementation of ETCS is not open to other companies, because AŽD owns the interface and thus has full control over whether or not to connect the security equipment of another company. It does not have to make the interface available to anyone else.

How is it possible that only one company has a monopoly on ETCS in the Czech Republic? In Germany, there are at least 2 companies that are system approved and have homologation to work with ETCS. A similar case is in Slovakia, where, in addition to AŽD, Siemens or Thales, for example, operate in this area.

Another problem is that every rolling stock that is to have access to the infrastructure should be compatible with the ETCS system. Again, we come across a situation where the configuration interface of the relevant version is owned by AŽD. It is a mistake that for such a system, which is to be primarily interoperable, such a requirement exists at all. It is thus possible to regulate the access of railway vehicles to the infrastructure.

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