CZ/SK verze

Implementation of ETCS in the Czech Republic: There is also a risk of financial sanctions due to a delay with implementation

Implementation of ETCS in the Czech Republic: There is also a risk of financial sanctions due to a delay with implementation
photo: Archives/Railway
22 / 02 / 2021

The introduction of the ETCS security system, which is now standard in EU countries, has brought a problem for Czech railways too: the system must be installed also on Czech rolling stock and infrastructure. The milestone for full functionality of the ETCS system on Czech railways is the year 2025, but even today there is a risk of financial sanctions due to a significant delay with the implementation.

ETCS was first introduced in the Czech Republic for the line between Kolín and Břeclav. Despite the European Deployment Plan, it is just a trial run so far. For this reason, both the new ETCS and the old, national systems are functional at the same time. What is striking, however, is that the ETCS test runs on this line have been going on for several years already. The railway administration is investing a lot in the implementation of the infrastructure system. The situation is similar on the line between Břeclav and Ostrava, where the ETCS system is also in trial operation. Will these delays make it possible to complete the implementation of the ETCS signaling system in time?

The National Implementation Plan envisages that from 1.1.2025 it will not be possible for trains without the ETCS system to run on selected Czech railway lines. This applies, for example, to Corridor I from Děčín to Břeclav, to Corridor II from Břeclav to Bohumín and Petrovice near Karviná and on the section between Česká Třebová and Přerov. This intention was communicated to the public in May 2019.

At the time, the Ministry for transport stated in a letter to the railway undertakings that in order to ensure a higher level of safety, the exclusive operation of trains under the supervision of ETCS will be extended to other lines in the next time horizons. Thanks to this, safer operation on the Czech railways should be ensured.

Another problem tied with this delay is the possibility of cuts in European subsidies. If Czech Republic does not meet the deadlines to which it has committed itself in the implementation of ETCS, there is a risk that it will lose funding from European grant funds.

All railway lines that are upgraded or built must be automatically equipped with ETCS. How is it possible that this is not the case in real life? According to the information available to our editorial office from a source that does not wish to be named, for example, the line between Prague Main Railway Station and Prague - Hostivař is being currently built without ETCS. The construction is therefore carried out in violation of EU requirements. Due to this breach, there may be an administrative proceeding between the Czech Republic and the European Union, and consequently, the financing of all transport constructions in the Czech Republic may be endangered.

ETCS is a cornerstone that needs to be implemented in order to gradually introduce further stages of automation on the railways. For example, the ATO system, an automation process for controlling rolling stock, is already being tested in some neighboring states.