Ever wondered what a high-speed train is like from the cab, or how in the world the drivers can make decisions so quickly when reaching speeds of 300 km/h? Even though the high-speed realm is relatively new to Malaga (see previous post), its inner workings are getting a workover throughout Europe. A new system is being implemented in stages to decrease reliance on and eventually eliminate track-side signals, and since this means less driver interaction, it will allow for increased speeds. When you’re going 300 km/h, you don’t have time to see a signal outside, react and make a 300-ton train slow down before reaching a switch or station. The new system with an impressive acronym (ERTMS – European Railway Traffic Management System) uses GSM-R radio signals to pull data from track sensors and communicate train positioning, velocity, braking guides and other stats to the driver and control centres. You can read more about ERTMS from the Union of the European Railway Industries, who even has videos showing this technology’s guts in a very simple manner.
Ave high-speed trains are using at least level-1 ERTMS, including those coming into Malaga. Signalling will be discussed in the next World Conference on High-Speed Sign System, which will be held in Malaga, interestingly enough. According to the Spanish government, this congress will bring together rail operators, infrastructure managers, and service providers from around the world.