DUTCH infrastructure manager ProRail has begun testing 11 innovations which it says will accelerate the rollout of ETCS across the Dutch network.

The systems have been supplied by Rail Connected, Heijmans, Allinq, Tizzin, VRS, Strukton, Geonext, Delta PI and Pilz through the Faster Tender Approach (ASAP) tender process launched by ProRail in June 2020. ProRail is using ASAP to work directly with commercial partners to develop new ideas and solutions.

ProRail called for both proven and unproven innovations, which led to the launch of partnerships with 13 companies in May 2021 to analyse 15 proposals. Following the creation of a business case for each innovation, 11 have now been selected to move to the test phase. This includes a wireless axle counter developed by Rail Connected.

The rollout of ETCS across the Dutch network is expected to be completed in 2050, but ProRail says this could be advanced to 2040 by the ASAP process, with plans to bring this forward to 2035.

ProRail called for solutions to meet one of five categories:

  • reducing or eliminating the number of cables and pipes required to connect with ERTMS equipment  
  • smarter housings, including combined housing for power supply, signalling and ICT equipment that are climate-proof, circular, CO2-neutral and quick to install
  • faster installation processes for items including balises, stop-marker signs and axle counters, which must be placed in and directly around the track. ProRail hopes to come up with a smart solution that will help to limit the inconvenience to travellers and shippers as much as possible when placing the various objects
  • smarter design, and
  • a wild card category for innovations don’t fit into other categories.

Under the tender process, ProRail and its partners will jointly develop innovations which can then be procured by ProRail. Innovations that successfully pass the testing phase, which is due to be completed in 2022, will advance to the commercial phase, at which point the commercial partners will be invited to enter into an agreement with ProRail.