Passenger operations have begun on the first stage of the new Sprint line from Erfurt to Leipzig/Halle in Germany without fixed signals.
The initiation of services is part of the VDE8 transportation project and is just in time for the schedule change in December.
Siemens and its consortium partner Kapsch CarrierCom Deutschland have equipped the new route with the European Train Control System (ETCS) Level 2 without conventional fixed exterior signals.
The entire 123km-long route will not have a single conventional stationary exterior signal and all of the necessary signals will be transmitted over the GSM-R digital rail telecommunications system.
The high-speed line between Erfurt-Leipzig/Halle will offer improved speeds in the East-West direction.
The ETCS Level 2 will reduce infrastructure costs, increase travelling speed to around 300km/h as well as increases the capacity of the route, reduces the journey time and improves energy consumption.
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The newly built and expanded line was needed to accommodate the increasing traffic volume as well as offer passengers a competitive and environmentally sound alternative to road and air travel.
With ETCS Level 2, train drivers no longer receive their commands, such as speed restrictions, via signals, but from a radio block centre using the GSM-R digital railway radio system.
The VDE8 rail transport project includes the new construction and extension of sections with an overall length of about 500km between Nuremberg, Erfurt, Halle, Leipzig and Berlin.
Following completion in 2017, the journey time between Munich and Berlin will be reduced to less than four hours.
The €10bn German Unity Transport Project (VDE 8) was approved by the Federal Government in 1991 to improve transport links between Munich and Berlin.
Image: First new German section with Siemens ETCS Level 2 in operation. Photo: courtesy of Siemens AG