Modernization of the Eskisehir-Kutahya-Balikesir railway line, Turkey

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Eskisehir-Kutahya-Balikesir (EKB), a 328 km long regional rail line in Turkey, is being modernized with new signaling and telecommunications systems. Owned by the Turkish Railways (Turkiye Cumhuriyeti Devlet Demiryollari or TCDD), the EKB single track railway line runs for approximately 260 km east of Ankara.

The modernization project will increase the capacity of the line and enable efficient management of the Eskisehir-Balikesir rail transport corridor.

The Turkish railway line is expected to be operational by December 2021, once the signaling works are completed. TCDD aims to transform 70% of its single track rail lines in Turkey to double track lines by 2023.

Details of the modernization of the Eskisehir-Kutahya-Balikesir line

The modernization of the EKB railway line involves the installation of equipment on the ground and on board, in particular the Atlas on-board signaling system, the Smartlock interlocking solution and Iconis, an integrated traffic control center.

The project will also see the addition of level crossing systems, electrical distribution systems and continuous power supply, as well as the construction of technical equipment buildings.

TCDD’s 26 locomotives will be fitted with the on-board equipment of the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) / European Train Control System (ETCS) and Automatic Train Stopping System (ATS). The new signaling system will improve the capacity of the line and help increase the average operational speed of trains to 160 km / h.

The interlocking system for the eight sections of the 328 km long main rail line entered service in February 2021. The introduction of an automatic train supervision solution and an ERTMS-based signaling system will improve the safety of the EKB railway line.

The line will be equipped with Huawei’s Global Mobile-Rail Communication System (GSM-R) and Synchronous Digital Hierarchy (SDH) to support seamless voice communication between dispatchers and train drivers. In addition, upgraded communication systems will facilitate seamless connectivity of signaling data.

Atlas signaling system details

The Atlas signaling system from the French rolling stock manufacturing company Alstom is based on levels one and two of ETCS / ERTMS and complies with the new ETCS basic 3 standards. It offers a scalable and configurable range to equip both new trains and the existing fleet. The system ensures interoperability between various trains and tracks and meets a wide range of operational requirements of railway operators.

Atlas enables reliable service, improves line capacity with higher density and speed, and provides optimum flexibility and efficiency. It is currently installed on 4,000 trains in commercial service around the world.

Smartlock interlocking solution

Alstom’s Smartlock is an intelligent interlocking solution for train protection with low maintenance costs. Smartlock’s network architecture provides simplified interfaces and seamless integration with advanced railway signaling systems such as mainline ERTMS systems and urban communications-based train control systems (CBTC).

Direct interfacing with trackside components such as signaling systems ensures minimal ground infrastructure and cables. The modular architecture makes it more adaptable to different rail operators and to future changes in network traffic.

Iconis Traffic Control Center

Iconis from Alstom is a customizable, modular, scalable and configurable traffic control system. The urban version of Iconis offers advanced network control for metro, streetcar and commuter train operations.

Iconis urban can manage driverless systems with automated traffic and depot management, while the core solution improves efficiency on dense networks with transparent monitoring and control.

Entrepreneurs involved

TCDD awarded a contract of around 89 million euros ($ 120.8 million) to Alstom for the supply of signaling and telecommunications systems for the EKB rail line in November 2011. The first of 26 locomotives installed with the ETCS levels one and two was delivered to TCDD in September 2021, under the contract with Alstom.

The company was also contracted to supply the line locking system.

Huawei provides an ETCS Level 2 compliant rail operational communication solution to the EKB line and other TCDD rail lines.

Fmk Ray provided consulting, surveying and design services and conducted discovery and quantity studies for the construction of electrification infrastructure along the EKB rail line.


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