On behalf of French-Belgian high-speed operator, Thalys International, Ricardo Certification has completed a rolling stock test programme featuring ERTMS Level 2 Baseline 3, a train control system, on the Dutch section of the HSL South route.
HSL South is a 125km high-speed line between Amsterdam and the Belgian border that is already equipped for ERTMS operations. Although the Thalys fleet was already fitted with ERTMS technology, it was to an older Baseline, meaning the onboard equipment would need to be upgraded to the newer version ahead the route's planned move to ERTMS Baseline 3.
"All over Europe, ERTMS installations, both on the tracks and onboard vehicles, are moving to the latest standards", explains Ricardo's ERTMS expert Peter Zijdemans.
"The ERTMS specification has been amended over the years via the so-called Baselines 1, 2 and 3. The Netherlands has opted for Baseline 3 release 2 for its own national roll-out of ERTMS technology".
"The advantage being that it offers more functionalities that are suitable for the successor to GSM-R. Thalys International knew they would have to deal with this change at the Kijfhoek - Roosendaal - Belgian border in 2026 and opted to take action now so that its onboard equipment remains ahead of the infrastructure".
"By upgrading to Baseline 3, the Thalys trains will be future-proof for the new ERTMS version".
A Challenging Puzzle
Ricardo Certification, together with Thalys International, commenced the on-track test programme in January 2021 and together oversaw its management and organisation through to completion in March 2021.
However, the planning work had started many months in advance, with Ricardo's teams drawing up a test programme that incorporated all the different tests were required to be taken, each one meticulously planned on a step-by-step basis.
Peter and the test team are delighted with how the programme was delivered, despite the various technical challenges that are typical of any vehicle test programme being further complicated by the social distancing measures required to ensure all participants were safe and working in compliance with government lockdowns of the time.
"The logistics initially presented a very challenging puzzle, but everything turned out well," said Peter. "We were able to perform the full programme, taking into account the COVID measures. We are proud that we have succeeded and hope the experience gained will make the process easier for all parties in the future".
This is an extract of an artilce that originally appeared in RailTech.com
*Ricardo Certification comprises a set of companies within the Ricardo group that perform independent assurance and testing services, including Notified Body, Designated Body and Independent Safety Assessments. For more information see Ricardo Certification.