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Driving aids and safety systems
With a view to ensuring the maximum safety of all rail traffic, rail engineers have developed effective technologies designed to ensure network safety. Some systems are designed to help drivers to drive the locomotive. Others monitor the train’s speed and slow it down if necessary.
These systems are designed to provide support for the driver while he is driving the train. However, he must also continue to comply with the lateral signalling along the tracks (namely signs and lights).
In Belgium, three different driving aids are currently in use, with each one having been designed to work in parallel with the others. These systems are: Memor-Crocodile, TBL1 and TBL1+.
Automatic train control systems
These are safety systems (also called Automatic Train Protection – ATP) which provide constant information about speed on a screen located on-board the train.
Permanent monitoring is carried out to prevent:
- a red signal from being passed by
- the maximum authorised speed from being exceeded
In short, the driver is in complete control of the train, but he is monitored constantly and emergency braking is activated if he does not respect a light signal or the speed limit.
On high-speed lines, this system is compulsory. It is considered that the driver is physically unable to follow trackside signals when travelling at over 160 km/h, and that everything should be shown on-board the train.
Ultimately, on traditional lines (standard network), an automatic train monitoring system will also be installed. This is the ETCS, a European system which aims to improve safety and facilitate interoperability (which will prevent having to equip cross-border trains with several different systems).