DUTCH infrastructure manager ProRail has awarded contracts for engineering design services on three of its ERTMS corridors to five firms.

ERTMS is replacing the legacy ATB train protection system, making it easier for Dutch trains to cross borders into other European Union countries as well as increasing reliability, punctuality and safety. The contracts cover the whole engineering design process from drafting the designs to testing and commissioning to ensure a demonstrably safe ERTMS system.

In 2018 a cross-industry ERTMS testing centre for the Netherlands was inaugurated in Amersfoort where all the sectors involved could work on developing the system, and in May 2021 then secretary of state for transport, Mrs Stientje van Veldhoven, announced that regional, non-electrified lines in the north of the country would be included in the programme to implement ERTMS, saving the cost of renewing legacy signalling systems and providing a testing ground for the new system.

ProRail will now form a “Knowledge Alliance” with Arcadis, Movares, Nexus Rail, Royal HaskoningDHV and Sweco to implement ERTMS on three ERTMS corridors: the Northern lines (ENL): Hanzelijn - Lelystad (EHL); and Schipol - Amsterdam - Almere - Lelystad (ESAAL).

The Knowledge Alliance method, which has been used for the project to install ERTMS on the route from Kijfhoek to the Belgian border, will enable the contractors to exchange knowledge and experience, and will also be used in the contractors’ interactions with ProRail and as a platform for the transfer of knowledge from the ERTMS systems supplier, Thales.

ProRail says in this way the five contractors can perform all the engineering services needed independently and as quickly as possible, aiding progress towards eventual national rollout of ERTMS.

Contract lots have been awarded as follows:

  • Arcadis will carry out engineering design for the Harlingen Haven - Leeuwarden sub-corridor, for Leeuwarden yard, and on the Amsterdam Muiderpoort - Weesp - Hilversum sub-corridor
  • Movares will work on the Almere Oostvaarders - Lelystad stabling yard sub-corridor, on the stabling yard itself, and on the Hoofddorp - Schiphol - Diemen sub-corridor
  • Nexus Rail will be responsible for the Leeuwarden - Stavoren sub-corridor and Leeuwarden - Groningen sub-corridor
  • Royal HaskoningDHV will carry out engineering design for the Lelystad staging area - Hattemerbroek connection sub-corridor, and the Weesp - Almere Oostvaarders sub-corridor, and
  • Sweco will work on the Groningen - Roodeschool/Delfzijl sub-corridor, the Groningen - Nieuwschans/Veendam sub-corridor, and on Groningen yard.

ProRail says that close collaboration between the different contractors and itself will ensure that ERTMS is implemented in a uniform manner across all three routes, which should make the rollout simpler for train drivers, control staff and maintenance personnel.

“With ERTMS we are entering a new phase, from thinking to doing,” says ProRail chief financial officer, Ms Mirjam van Velthuizen-Lormans. “This award to the engineering firms is a major step towards the actual rollout of digital train protection. The introduction of ERTMS is one of our biggest jobs ever.”

“The introduction of ERTMS is really imminent,” says ProRail director of projects, Ms Riet Schroven. “There is a lot to do so we are rolling up our sleeves along with the engineering firms working on the three routes. Good cooperation is a critical success factor.”