While the rollout of ETCS infrastructure is federally funded, the federal government’s 2020 draft budget makes no provision for funding onboard equipment, which according to the VDV costs up to €700,000 per vehicle.

“With the introduction of ETCS, essential functions will be shifted from the infrastructure to the vehicles,” says VDV president, Mr Ingo Wortmann. “Therefore, the federal government transfers considerable cost out of its area of responsibility to the vehicle operators. If the government leaves the railway companies to address this major financial burden alone it risks the acceptance of ETCS in the industry as a whole and endangers successful digitalisation of the railways.”

"It is difficult to understand why the federal government, in the promotion of ETCS, makes a distinction between infrastructure and onboard components when both are needed for successful implementation.”

The VDV argues that the introduction of ETCS can make rail more attractive, particularly for freight, by increasing network capacity and improving reliability, but warns this can only be achieved if operators receive federal support to fund the transition from legacy train protection systems.