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Space for Innovation in Rail – Towards Satellite Based ERTMS – 13&14 September

Madrid, Spain


Against the backdrop of the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the Europe’s Rail Joint Undertaking (EU-Rail)  together with the European Commission, the European Union Agency for the Space Programme (EUSPA), and the European Union Agency for Railways (ERA) organised the second edition of the ‘Space for Innovation in Rail – Towards Satellite Based ERTMS’.

To unleash its full potential for decarbonising European transport, rail must integrate latest technologies to advance the digitalisation of the rail system, operate even safer, more efficient, and provide high-quality customer services. One central tenet of this strategy is European train control, and the future role of satellite technology therein.

In this light, this two-day event gathered Europe’s major transport stakeholders, including key decision makers and the railway sector representatives across the entire value chain, debating the introduction of the European Union’s Space Programme assets in the railway domain. The main focus of the event was on the European Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) utilisation for fail-safe train localisation within the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) evolution.

Four unique site visits

On 14 September, after the official conference programme, the participants had an opportunity to take part in four unique site visits.

Atocha Railway Station

Atocha railway station, inaugurated in 1851, has undergone successive refurbishments and extensions and is currently the station with the highest passenger traffic in the country (including high speed, long and medium distance and commuter). Since 2021, it is also the main scenario of the railway liberalisation process, with 3 different railway undertakings operating high speed trains.

ADIF Traffic Control Centre at Atocha Railway Station

In addition to its famous tropical garden, which attracts as many visitors as passengers every year, Atocha station is home to Adif’s high-speed Regulation and Control Centre (CRC), the nerve centre of the high speed in Spain. Through the CRC, Adif controls all processes and systems of the Spanish high-speed rail network. The CRC manages and coordinates the traffic in real time, following a defined transport plan, complying with the required safety and punctuality indexes and allowing an immediate response to possible incidents.

CEDEX ERTMS Rail Interoperability Lab

CEDEX Rail Interoperability Lab (RIL) is the first neutral lab in the world specialised in testing rail signaling systems and more specifically ERTMS (European Rail traffic Management System) components and subsystems. CEDEX-RIL was created in 2000 and it is the first lab that have tested both ERTMS components, ERTMS trackside/onboard subsystems and ERTMS Train/track integration.  The main activity of the lab is testing the signaling system in advance before performing any test onsite by means of integrating in the lab the industrial signaling components (OBU: On Board Unit and RBC:Radio Block Center) and simulating the train movement and the track occupancy. Many different European and non-European ERTMS manufacturers have been tested at CEDEX-RIL.

CEDEX Track Box Laboratory

CEDEX Track Box (CTB) is a 21 m long, 5 m wide and 4 m deep facility whose main objective is to test, at 1:1 scale, complete railway track sections of conventional and high speed lines for passenger, freight and mixed traffics, at speeds up to 400 km/h. The effect of the passing-by of trains during a year in a real section can be reproduced in one working week. The reproduction of the approaching, passing-by and going away of a train in a real test cross-section, is performed by application of loads, adequately unphased, produced by three pairs of servo-hydraulic actuators applying a maximum load of 250 kN at a frequency of 50 Hz.