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You are speaking about ETCS Level 2. However, Germany's decision also kills Level 1 (which is a point-wise train control system with fixed transponders) and thus signalling system unification on freight routes, Germany being central to railfreight flows in the EU. The variability of conventional line train control systems is much greater than that on high-speed lines, and the interoperability of even four voltage system locos is nowadays limited by the number of locomotive-side train control equipment that can be installed simultaneously.

That said, ETCS Level 1 has some drawbacks, too. In the bare-bones version, trackside equipment are the "balises": magnets installed in the middle of the tracks at fixed points (at signals and level crossings). So the locomotive gets updated information about whether it can continue or should slow or should stop only when it passes a balise. This is similar to the old German Indusi/PZB system.

However, other systems (for example France's Crocodile or Hungary's EVM) use sections of the rail itself as track-side antenna, providing for a continuous information exchange: thus the locomotive 'sees' the next signal in advance, and can for example allow the driver to accelerate again if the signal goes from yellow to green.

ETCS L1 does have a solution to the problem: there is an optional equipment for continuous information transmission, called Euroloop. This is a coaxial cable that can be fitted to the rail, forming an antenna loop ahead of a balise and sending its signal in advance. (It look and is installed much like the German LZB, except for the regular swaps between the two cables which makes LZB a line-wise train control system.) This is sub-optimal, though: on one hand, compared to the rail-as-antenna solution, balises and Euroloop cables are extra equipment and cost; and on non-fenced-in conventional tracks, cable thiefs are a major problem.

(Apologies if you know all this already, but I went into detail thinking that other readers might be interested.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Aug 6th, 2011 at 05:15:06 AM EST
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