ERTMS was always a long-term vision. Some countries are understandably wary of the upheaval and risks involved in replacing deeply-ingrained national rules and practices. For others, financing is a key challenge.
Meanwhile, rolling stock – procured long in advance and with up to 40 year lifespans – has often continued to be manufactured to existing requirements, with ERTMS compatibility a low priority.
And even the concept of a common, unified system has been tested as countries sought local amendments and variations.
But the technology behind ERTMS Level 2 is proven and is gradually being implemented with all new EU mainline projects required to adopt it. Now under the stewardship of the European Railway Agency (ERA), the technology will be standardised, supply chains will fall into line, and migration programmes will be mastered. There is no doubt that the general direction of the industry is towards digitally-based, centralised control systems like ERTMS.