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Some notes in addition to what was covered in my previous comment:

what improvements would ETCS bring over the already existing LZB (or TVM-430).

ETCS L2 means less lineside equipment than LZB, and thus potentially lower material costs (especially in cable thief endangered areas). The real big benefit would be in moving block implementation (ETCS L3, which requires little extra equipment and more extra software), but with ETCS L2 still not mature, it is in the uncertain future.

incompatibilities even between ETCS versions (when you ask a supplier "I want ETCS in my locomotive", he'll ask you "which version do you want?")

ETCS was plagued by two kinds of incompatibilities. One was incompatibility between manufacturers: there were ETCS L2 problems (mainly in the BeNeLux) stemming from manufacturers implementing still evolving standards differently. The other was and is program and parameter setting differences: the effect of physical things like braking distances, failure mode permitted top speeds, allowed regenerative braking power, allowed adhesion can differ between railway networks (partly for climatic reasons) – these all affect the loco's control software itself, too –; and data format. For the locomotive owner, however, this is not an insurmountable problem but a question of the price of extra software and extra storage space.

AND you have to install LZB anyway, if you want to run in high speed (160+ km/h) routes in Germany anyway

This now goes both ways: you have to install ETCS L2 anyway if you want to run on Italian high-speed lines or via Berne and the Lötschberg Base Tunnel in Switzerland, and at least ETCS L1 if you want to run into Spain (once the Barcelona link is completed), and again ETCS L1 if you want to run a freight train on the Betuwe Line.

SCMT in Italian network

SCMT is quite similar to ETCS L1, the trackside part is compatible while the data format can be packaged, thus it was decided to migrate it to ETCS. An extra is compatibility with the older Italian systems.

After the disaster in China (where the signaling is supposedly based on a local version of ETCS-2)

That disaster throws up many questions, but none of the potential accident factors I read of go back to the original ETCS design. According to Railway Gazette, CTCS-2 is based on ETCS L1, and "radio dispatching" (if reports about its use are right) was not ETCS L2 application but a 'fallback' level also used on conventional railways (usually it also means that only one train can travel between two stations). If, instead, the ministry said the truth and the signalling had a software error resulting in a failure to set a signal red, that's probably not even a CTCS-2 error (though the control centre's failure to notice the false signal setting could be).

ETCS Level 2 cannot provide AFB (automatic train-pilot)

From what I read, AFB is rarely used under LZB as locomotive drivers still can execute a smoother (more energy efficient, more passenger comfort) velocity curve. Note that AFB is a separate, overlaid automatic train operation (ATO) system. In theory you can overlay an ATO with ETCS, too (see Czech trials).

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

by DoDo on Sun Aug 7th, 2011 at 01:39:08 PM EST
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