The European Rail Traffic Management System Programme

The Situation

Following the recommendation of the Joint Inquiry into Train Protection Systems to install the European Train Control System (ETCS) in Great Britain by 2008, the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) Programme Board appointed the cross-industry ERTMS Team (EPT) to produce an industry plan for ERTMS implementation (of which ETCS is a part). NERA was commissioned by the Health and Safety Executive to review the economic aspects of the work of the EPT, in particular their "Final Report" of April 2002.

NERA's Role

NERA’s review firmly supports the EPT conclusion that endorsing the Joint Inquiry recommendations on time would be premature, and not now justifiable against the government’s policy appraisal criteria - even having regard to the special, "media amplifying" characteristics of ATP-preventable accidents. The NERA team also concluded that it is likely to be a year, or longer, before sufficient information is available to support firm policy decisions about ERTMS installation timescales for the British railway network as a whole. However, while the NERA team concurred with the main conclusion of the EPT, they did not endorse the economic analysis of the EPT as they found that it not only contained a number of weaknesses, it seriously over or understated important quantitative arguments. Lastly, NERA’s experts recommend that future work should include analysis focused at the somewhat higher level needed to provide a basis for sound policy advice about ERTMS strategy.

The Result

On 5 February 2003 the Chairman of the Health & Safety Commission wrote to the Secretary of State for Transport, drawing on this economic review. The recommendations in the letter were accepted by the Government.