ETCS on Belgian freight route

ETCS on Belgian freight route
14 September 2018

Infrabel is committed to implementing European Train Control System (ETCS) level 1 on the freight lines that form ‘European Corridor C’ - connecting the Port of Antwerp to the European mainland.

The ETCS system will supplement the existing signalling and Automatic Train Protection (ATP) systems along the route.

It also combines ETCS and TBL1+, the Belgian ATP add-on that stops trains when passing a signal at danger.

After Siemens was selected to provide the hardware and software configuration, Ricardo Certification  was appointed as the Notified Body to undertake the required certification of the project against the Technical Specifications for Interoperability (TSI) for Train Control.

Towards a European standard

The TSIs were established as part of Europe's drive to improve cross-border rail traffic and promote competition between member state networks by harmonising technical standards. EU legislation — in particular the Railway Interoperability Directive 2008/57/EC — set out the common technical specifications that relevant elements of a railway, such as rolling stock, signalling and train control system, must comply with.

Any new rail lines that form part of the European cross border freight network, for example, must be built and operated in accordance with these TSIs.

On top of this, member states are also encouraged to modify existing lines that form part of the corridors defined for freight traffic.

The independent verification to certify that a project complies with the TSIs is performed by a Notified Body.

The assignment was fulfilled in partnership with Certifer.


The Belgian section of Corridor C is divided into multiple branches, the majority of which have been equipped with the ETCS balises and Lineside Electronic units (LEU).

The commissioning and certification of these projects is almost complete and the lines are now in service. This includes branches situated between Namur - Arlon & Leuven, along with transitions to the French and Luxembourg networks and the entrance/exit transitions to the rest of the national network.

Operations between Antwerp-Berchem in the north and Arlon in the south have been using ETCS L1 since January 2013.

The remaining branches are dispatching routes that are used to alleviate any hold-ups on the main line. The commissioning and certification of these lines is planned for 2016.

The project has been managed with the characteristics of a ‘roll-out’, where repetitive activities are based on an approved Generic Application Safety Case and a Generic Technical File with an Interim Statement of Verification.