TBL1+, the safety equipment developed by Alstom for the Belgian railway signalling system

In Belgium, the installation of theTBL1+ was requested to renew the national signalling system. It replaces TBL1, which was a safety system where the status of signals was transmitted to a train set, equipped with a passive antenna, by a specific ground beacon emitting a magnetic field. TBL1+ is similar, except that on-board/ground contactless communication is achieved by means of a Euroantenna installed on the train and a Euro ground beacon. Furthermore, this system differs from its predecessor in its ability to control that the train speed is not higher than 40 km/h on sections where this limitation is applicable.

Eurostar equips its trains with TBL1+ for compatibility with the Belgian signalling system

Eurostar's objective is to extend the operating life in Belgium of the E300 trainsets, now equipped with the TBL1. To do so, it is necessary to install TBL1+ on its trainsets before this system fully replaces TBL1 on the Belgian rail network in December 2022.

The installation was carried out at the Hellemmes industrial technicentre on a first prototype engine. The system consists mainly of the Euroantenne located under the cash desk, as well as an electronic drawer - the processing unit - installed in a cabin cabinet. This drawer is used to decode the information picked up by the antenna from the ground eurobalise. This translated information is then relayed to the driver via a tracked interface on the driver's cab.

The purpose of this equipment is, of course, to assist driving, by ensuring that signals are repeated in the cab and by sending warning signals when necessary. 

The installation of this equipment has been completed on the prototype and will therefore continue on the series, i.e. on the 8 remaining trainsets.

A Masteris/Direction du Matériel SNCF collaboration

A team with varied expertise had to be set up to carry out this project following the signing of the contract at the end of 2018. The SNCF Equipment Department is taking over management of the studies related to the project through the North and East Engineering clusters and the Equipment Engineering Centre. The installation on trains is carried out by teams from the SNCF industrial technicentre in Hellemmes.

Masteris, as project manager, manages among other things the customer interface and the steering of activities through its Projects and Purchasing Department. The Engineering Business Unit of Masteris prepares the authorisation application file for the DRSI, one of the major components of which is the certification of the modification of trainsets by Belgorail.

Despite the Covid19 health crisis, it was possible to meet the commitments in terms of deadlines. Indeed, the various teams were mobilized to continue the installation during the containment phase.

Interoperability in Europe with ERTMS to follow

The European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) project started several years ago. At its genesis, the mission was launched through a consortium of railway companies including Ansaldo STS, Alstom, Bombardier, Siemens, Thales and Invensys. Europe is asking for a unified signalling system with interoperability as the main challenge.

In the meantime, trains operating under several signalling systems - there are about 20 in Europe - are obliged to be equipped with safety equipment compatible with each of them.

Several European countries have launched their campaign to switch to ERTMS. Belgium, for example, has set itself the target of switching to ERTMS by 2025. Masteris will be able to help operators who want to prepare for this change.

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