THE Signalling Company (TSC), a joint venture between Belgian companies ERTMS Solutions and private rail freight operator Lineas, is developing what it says is an app functioning as the TBL1+ Belgian national signalling system. The company says this would allow the signalling system to be downloaded onto any railway vehicle and upgraded or maintained as necessary without requiring any manual labour.

TSC is already developing a digital ETCS onboard solution. The TBL1 app will be developed over the next two years and launched in 2024.

Lineas has ordered the TBL1 app alongside the ETCS app, with both systems to be installed together with the digital onboard unit (OBU) on 88 locomotives from 2024. Under the contract, the TBL1+ app will be maintained and upgraded as needed until 2036.

TSC says the TBL1+ app will be the first in its kind in Europe, with any future locomotive able to download the app from the “Railway App Store” that it is developing. TSC says the app addresses key challenges faced by operators by introducing automated and dematerialised Specific Transmission Modules (STMs).

TSC says it is in talks with several organisations and clients to develop STMs for other Class B signalling systems, and in December 2020 launched an open cooperation on Class B Systems with CAF Signalling. Discussions are underway to develop other apps, such as automatic train operation (ATO) and digital automatic couplings (DAC).

“As Lineas we’re delighted that our ETCS supplier has proposed and validated the development of a TBL1+ app for Belgium, amongst other future innovative apps that will be available in their new Railway App Store,” says Lineas locomotive fleet manager, Mr Bruno Vanlede. “This is an important step into the digitalisation of the rail sector as much less hardware will be needed on the locomotive and more performant technology to operate wider, faster and in a more cost-efficient way will be available for all of us.”