Rolling stock manufacturer Hitachi Rail has secured a framework contract for the European Rail Transport Management System (ERTMS) digital signalling technology in Italy.

Under the $549m (€500m) contract, Hitachi Rail will design and deploy advanced digital signalling on 700km of rail lines across the country.

It is said to be the first technological project funded by Italy’s National Plan for Recovery and Resilience.

Hitachi Rail will serve as the principal provider in an alliance to support the digital signalling programme. Other partners are Alstom Ferroviaria and Ceit.

Hitachi Rail EMEA and Australia sales and projects executive officer Michele Fracchiolla said: “This system clearly indicates the intention to extend the benefits of the high-speed technological evolution to other types of lines, particularly to regional transport.”

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The new technology will be installed on rail lines in four regions, including nearly 480km of Sicily’s rail lines, as well as 150km of previous ‘Ferrovia Centrale Umbra’ in Umbria.

This digital signalling system will also be implemented on 80km of the Roccasecca-Avezzano rail line in the Lazio and Abruzzo regions.

The scope of the work includes the replacement of traffic lights with onboard digital cab signalling.

ERTMS will integrate train control systems in different European countries to create a consistent railway system in Europe.

It will deploy a new automatic train protection system and GSM-R radio system to facilitate communications between track and train.

ERTMS will also enable trains coming from neighbouring European nations to run on Italian lines without disruption.

In February this year, Hitachi Rail secured a contract to deploy new digital signalling systems onboard Infranord’s two yellow maintenance trains in Scandinavia.