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One of our big priorities is to offer our passengers with the best possible train service. Every day, our officers work on maintaining the rolling stock in workshops and maintenance stations and on installing safety systems in the case of the latter.

ETCS

The European Train Control System (ETCS) is an automatic train control system. It works using balises (beacons or markers) along the track (level 1) or messages transmitted by the GSM-R network (level 2) to a computer system on board the loco. Based upon the information received from the ground (maximum line speed, length of free track...) and the speed of the train, the driver is continuously informed of the maximum speed at which he can drive and of any upcoming reductions in speed. If he exceeds the authorised speed, the locomotive executes emergency braking.

Equipping rolling stock

New trains, such as Desiro and M6 railcars, are delivered with the ETCS system already installed. On other types of recent trains, the system is installed by has not yet been activated (ETCS off but TBL1+ ON): this requires some adaptations and the installation of specific software. On older trains, the system is installed in SNCB workshops. On even older rolling stock, it's simply not technically feasible. Such rolling stock will gradually be replaced with the commissioning of new rolling stock (M7).

Objective: SNCB is committed to equipping all trains in domestic circulation with ETCS by 2023.

% of the fleet with ETCS on (installed + operational), ETCS off (installed but non-operational) and without ETCS:

ETCS

TBL1+

Since 2013, all operational traction units in the SNCB fleet intended for domestic traffic are fitted with the automatic braking system TBL1+. This system is based on a ground balise (beacon or marker), which sends an electromagnetic signal sensed by an antenna that is fitted on the traction unit. It increases the safety level of all train movements significantly. Fairly similar to its predecessor (TBL1), however it includes one major development:

  • An additional balise is fitted 300 m in advance of a red signal to check the train's speed (less than 40 km/h when approaching the signal); In practise

When a train is approaching an amber signal, a lamp lights up in the driver's cab. The driver thus needs to confirm receipt of this warning by pressing a button. If he fails to do so, emergency braking is engaged automatically. The same process applies if after having confirmed the warning, the driver approaches a red signal at a speed that is still excessive. Thus, the train is not able to exceed a speed of 40 km/h during the last 300 metres running up to the signal. In brief, the TBL1+ system makes it possible to significantly reduce the risks of seeing a train reach the hazardous point.

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Safety of the public at large

We attend to the safety of our passengers, as well as our staff in trains and in our stations, using patrols of Securail officers on board trains and in stations, as well using a sizeable network of CCTV cameras managed by the SOC (Security Operations Centre).

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