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Eurocab Madrid-Seville European tests

European Union
Complete with results
Project Acronym
STRIA Roadmaps
Network and traffic management systems (NTM)
Transport mode
Rail icon
Transport policies
Societal/Economic issues


Background & Policy context

Railway technology has traditionally evolved in Europe according to the concepts and preferences of prominent national industry stakeholders. This focus on national requirements - in particular with respect to signalling and telecommunications technology - has resulted in a ever increasing difficulty to reach the levels of interoperability that are necessary for the implementation of cross-border services. This has required complex and costly solutions normally based on the mere superposition of the national systems.

In order to provide an effective response to this challenge, the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) programme was set up. It aims, in particular, at the development of the European Train Control System (ETCS), creating the basis for the harmonisation of railway signalling systems in Europe whilst being a push towards interoperability and a much needed increase in the efficiency of railway operation.


Within the overall framework of the ERTMS programme, EMSET aimed primarily at the performance of a full-scale functional validation of the ERTMS/ETCS. This should enable an extended proof of the concept, notably from an interoperability perspective. Special emphasis was given to the assurance of the backward compatibility with legacy environments - i.e. existing national signalling systems - an aspect that is crucial to enable a commercial deployment of the European solutions.

Against this background, the main objectives of EMSET were:

  • to elaborate a comprehensive test strategy for the evaluation of specific ERTMS/ETCS components - notably Eurobalise and Euroradio protocol - and the on-board sub-system (Eurocab);
  • to create a set of reference test tools for component performance and interoperability assessment and a workbench for system integration in the laboratory;
  • to install a test track enabling the functional validation of the ERTMS/ETCS on-board architecture in full-scale site tests for application levels 1 and 2, the latter using an emulation of the radio bearer;
  • to develop specific tools enabling the performance of interoperability tests with existing national signalling systems (external STMs); and
  • to perform laboratory and field tests with track and on-board equipment provided by several industrial suppliers.


Parent Programmes
Institution Type
Public institution
Institution Name
European Commission; Directorate-General for Energy and Transport (DG TREN; formerly DG VII)
Type of funding
Public (EU)


EMSET has achieved:

  • the elaboration of a test specification for the on-board subsystem (Eurocab) creating the basis for its assessment from both a functional and interoperability point of view;
  • the development of a range of reference test tools for laboratory and site tests to support such a test process;
  • the performance of laboratory and field tests - the latter using the Madrid-Seville high-speed line - for the functional and interoperability validation of several ERTMS/ETCS components/sub-systems, notably:
    • Eurobalise using balises supplied by Adtranz, Ansaldo, Alstom and Siemens; this included, in particular, the assessment of the interoperability of track-side components and of transmission using the on-board equipment of different suppliers,
    • Euroradio communications sub-system, using equipment from Alstom, Adtranz, Ansaldo (with CSEE Transport), Alcatel and Dimetronic; the tests covered the validation of the Euroradio protocol as implemented in company proprietary data receivers using an uniform message generator, and
    • Eurobab equipment from Alstom, Ansaldo (with CSEE Transport), Alcatel and Dimetronic.

Such a comprehensive test programme allowed a first extended proof of the feasibility of the goal of reaching technical interoperability between systems from different suppliers. This enabled the performance of the necessary technical corrections to the ERTMS/ETCS systems specifications, paving the way for a sounder and less risky development of brand products that are crucial in the subsequent phases of development of the ERTMS-related activity programme. The latter will necessarily involve an extension of the EMSET work - notably in regard to the reference test tools - to cover the recent upgrades of the ERTMS/ETCS system specifications (the so-called Class 1 release).

Policy implications

Interoperability assessment and cross-acceptance are two concepts that are at the core of the Directive 96/48 on the interoperability of the European high-speed rail system. The EMSET project has provided a sound foundation on which to build an interoperability and cross-acceptance process, without which a real transposition of the Directive would not be possible. In addition, EMSET has created a knowledge base of test results, which were instrumental in the consolidation of the ERTMS/ETCS system specifications, creating the conditions for their formal embodiment in a recent Commission Decision.


Lead Organisation
EU Contribution
Partner Organisations
EU Contribution


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