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Risk 5: ERTMS


The risk is that the introduction of ERTMS results in disruption for customers. Another risk is that the implementation of ERTMS fails to yield the desired results in the fields of safety, reliability, interoperability, capacity and speed. Replacing the train safety system on the Dutch railways is a major and complex programme that is bound to have an impact on NS. The roll-out of ERTMS will take many years. During this period, both the traditional safety system (ATC, automatic train control) and ERTMS will have to be used in parallel. Risks in the shorter term concern the proper installation of the system in our trains and its implementation within the organisation at large.


The introduction of ERTMS in the Dutch rail sector (NS, ProRail and other carriers) is being coordinated by programme directors who were installed by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management at ProRail. At NS, a programme team has been set up to implement ERTMS within NS. The introduction of ERTMS is a complex challenge as it comprises technical, operational and organisational elements. Its implementation in the Dutch railway system will result in changes for the infrastructure operator and for all carriers. Both the infrastructure and the trains have to be modified to make sure that ERTMS can be implemented. On top of that, a large number of employees will have to be trained in working effectively within the context of the new system. ERTMS will be rolled out and ATC removed per track section. Alongside ERTMS, the current ATC will remain in use during the roll-out until all track sections have been equipped for ERTMS, in around 2050. In the years ahead, the development of ERTMS as a European train safety system will continue.


Upon the introduction of ERTMS, the programme directors opted for an approach that prioritises due care over speed. Combined with the joint quality management system, a detailed phased migration plan helps to reduce the risk of disruptions for passengers and of not achieving the ERTMS objectives. NS has taken measures to safeguard careful preparation of the steps in the migration process.

In addition, NS is preparing the introduction of ERTMS in close collaboration with the ERTMS programme directors, ProRail and the other carriers. The ERTMS programme team recognises the risks and is mitigating them. To that end, it has set up a governance structure that ensures the high-level involvement of all the business units concerned. We are applying tried-and-tested introduction methods that were also used for recent rolling stock launches.

Risk control trend

The measures that have been taken have further reduced the risk of disruption for customers. Various other measures suggested by NS to minimise the fall in operational performance or unacceptable disruption for customers have been included in the proposed programme decisions. NS manages the risk that the implementation of ERTMS may not deliver the expected results in partnership with the ERTMS programme directors. It is too early to discern a trend, as the actual roll-out will take years to complete.

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