The outage manifests itself during the journey in such a way that the trains themselves start to brake strongly out of nowhere, even at high speed. Sometimes it stops completely. They will be instructed to do so by the tested ETCS device. As it is a single track, this causes significant problems.
“Disturbances on the track put us in an unpleasant situation both for the region and for passengers. Outages primarily affect the flow of traffic and the comfort of passengers,” ČD spokeswoman Vanda Rajnochová told Novinká, adding that in the past week alone, more than five dozen trains were delayed due to ETCS outages. “Delays for individual connections are in the order of tens of minutes. A total of 16 trains were cancelled,” she added.
“Passengers are dissatisfied and I understand them. They have the right to safe, comfortable and, above all, timely transport,” stressed Olomouc governor Josef Suchánek (PirSTAN), adding that the problems on this line have been going on for a long time.
According to the Railway Administration, the system is in pilot operation and outages do not have a significant impact on train operations. The delays are said to be only a few minutes and are caused by system calibration. “This is the first case where only a European security guard supervises the operation of trains, therefore the system may be calibrated during the verification operation,” SŽ spokesperson Jan Nekola explained to Práv.
At the same time, Czech Railways is talking about significant delays and canceled trains due to equipment malfunctions.
This is to be gradually installed on key lines to prevent collisions if two trains enter the same track. According to SŽ, the system is being deliberately tested on regional lines, not on key corridors.
According to her, ČD handles all cases primarily with SŽ, which, as the manager of the railway infrastructure, installs the European ETCS security system.
“Roughly 1,600 trains pass on the line every month. During the mentioned period, we register several-second signal outages between the track and on-board parts of ETCS in approximately one to two percent of trains, which causes an extension of the travel times of these connections. On average, this is five to seven minutes, during which it is necessary to carry out the necessary transport and technological operations. Together with railway carriers and system suppliers, we are working to significantly reduce the number of these cases,” said Nekola.
Outages most often occur in the Olomouc–Bohuňovice section. SŽ carried out dozens of inspection drives there. “These, as well as the journeys of regular connections, are continuously evaluated, which contributes to finding the causes of temporary signal losses,” the spokesperson emphasized.
A new railway bridge leads from Moravia to Slovakia
The purpose of introducing ETCS in Europe is to remove barriers that are represented by different security technologies in individual countries. These cause, for example, the need to change locomotives at the border. The verification operation during the introduction of ETCS has the task of eliminating irregularities in its operation before the start of live operation. “The pilot operation at Uničovka has been running for about 11 months. Other infrastructure managers in Europe also faced short-term signal outages. In Spain, testing ran for two years, German colleagues debugged the communication of on-board and track units for 18 months,” pointed out Nekola.
In order to prevent widespread disruption of the timetable, SŽ has already taken the necessary measures that will temporarily reduce the capacity of the line, but will prevent the disruption of individual connections.
More people would feel the disturbances in the corridor
The line from Olomouc to Uničov was chosen as the most suitable after recent modernization. The reliability of the system as a whole cannot be verified other than in real operation. That’s why we deliberately chose a regional track. If we were to introduce exclusive operation under ETCS on one of the corridors, its possible malfunctions would be felt by many more passengers. We started the exclusive operation of ETCS at Uničovka well in advance, so that we have enough time to eliminate all irregularities before the sharp operation from 2025,” assures SŽ General Director Jiří Svoboda.