The European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS)—a unique train control technology designed to make European railways interoperable

In a global economy, rail’s ability to absorb an ever-growing transport demand will play a key role in positioning the sector as a competitive alternative to road transport. In the meantime, rail transport suffers from the existence of 20 different signalling systems throughout Europe, all inherited from the past. These are the major obstacles to rail’s competitiveness.

The European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS), as a universal and EU-compatible signalling system, is an innovative technical solution designed to deal with a growing transport demand and also to improve the capacity on railway lines. With more than 40,000 km of contracted railway tracks, out of which nearly 50% outside of Europe, it has now established itself as a global standard.

By equipping its network with ERTMS, a country becomes available to any train fitted with the ERTMS on-board equipment. In the long term, equipping pan-European corridors with ERTMS will greatly improve the competitiveness of rail transport, as trains will only need one signalling system to cross borders.

The full benefits of ERTMS in terms of interoperability, safety and performance can only be realized if national investments are coordinated along a given international corridor. Cross-border connections and strategic coordination under the EU umbrella are more than desirable. To this end, a European ERTMS deployment plan was adopted in July 2009.

For further information about ERTMS and to download the ERTMS factsheets, please visit:

External Links
To access the EC’s Press Release on the ERTMS Memorandum of Understanding please click here
To access the EC’s Press Release for on the European ERTMS deployment plan please click here
To access the European ERTMS Deployment plan (as published in the EU Official Journal) please click here
To access the European Railway Agency’s documents on interoperability please click here
To access the EC’s decision on technical specification for interoperability please click here


For more information, please contact:
Jonathan Cutuli
UNISIG/ERTMS Project Manager
+32 2 643 70 81