ŠKODA has acquired a 93.9% stake in The Signalling Company, a Belgian digital developer of onboard safety software and signalling systems for operators.

The acquisition is in line with Škoda’s strategy to expand into modern rail technology, and follows the acquisition earlier this year of the Austrian operations of technical engineering and design company Molinari Rail.

The Signalling Company was formed as a joint venture between Belgian companies ERTMS Solutions and private rail freight operator Lineas. The remaining 6.1% stake in The Signalling Company remains in the ownership of the company’s two executives, Mr Stanislas Pinte and Mr Frederic Du Jardin.

The Signalling Company designs Level 4 safety software fully compatible with the current ETCS standard and is also applicable to autonomous operations.

“Expanding our portfolio with our own signalling solutions, especially ETCS, is important to the group’s success in European markets, especially in Western Europe,” says Škoda Group CEO, Mr Didier Pfleger. “This sector has great potential, and we’re looking forward to developing new solutions to improve rail safety, efficiency and sustainability.”

Škoda says the acquisition will boost its competitiveness with major European rolling stock manufacturers and allow it to offer a full range of products and services to operators in Western Europe, especially Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands.

The Signalling Company is currently equipping 110 locomotives with ETCS for Lineas.

Škoda will take on The Signalling Company’s 38 employees to develop a signalling division under the leadership of Pinte, who will be appointed as vice-president for signalling. Skoda says his task will be to complete the development of existing signalling solutions and ensure the development of new technology in this area.

“With the entry of a large and successful partner into our company, there are further great opportunities for growth in the signalling business,” Pinte says. “Thanks to Škoda Group's investment and the connection with such a major European rolling stock manufacturer, we will gain access to the European market.”