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In today’s railway industry, there are many types of railway controlling systems. The principle intent
of the train control system is to prevent collision when train are traveling in on the same track either in the
same direction (one after the other) or opposite direction (the trains travelling in the same direction).
These systems also permits a safe movements of trains as they move from one track to another. Early
train systems were very simplistic in their architecture. As the train technology and operations evolved
over time, these systems grew to have more and more complex architecture. The latest architecture is
known as CBTC.
Communications-Based Train Control (CBTC) is a railway signaling system that makes use of
the telecommunications between the train and track equipment for the traffic management and
infrastructure control. By means of the CBTC systems, the exact position of a train is known more
accurately than with the traditional signaling systems. This results in a more efficient and safe way to
manage the railway traffic. Metros (and other railway systems) are able to improve headways while
maintaining or even improving safety. A CBTC system is a “continuous, automatic train control system
utilizing high-resolution train location determination, independent of track circuits; continuous, high-
capacity, bidirectional train-to-wayside data communications; and train borne and
wayside processors capable of implementing Automatic Train Protection (ATP) functions, as well as
optional Automatic Train Operation (ATO) and Automatic Train Supervision (ATS) functions.”, as
defined in the IEEE 1474 standard.

1.1 Existing System v/s CBTC

Existing system can do automated train protection. Manual train operation and manual train supervision.
But CBTC can handle fully automated train protection, automated train operation, and automated rain
supervision. So ATS (automatic train supervision) and ATC (automatic train control) system rely on the
relay of information through audio frequency (AF) current to transmit ATS or ATC related information
along the track circuit. This approach has some technical limitations. First, the location of trains can only
be determined to the resolution of the track circuits is occupied, that entire track circuit must be assumed
as occupied. The track circuit’s length can be made shorter, but adding additional tracks circuits requires
additional wayside hardware, this imposes additional costs, causing a practical and economical limit to

the number of tracks circuits that a railroad can install. Second, the information that can be provided to a
train through a track circuit is limited to a small number of wayside signal aspects or speed data.

2. Methodology

2.1 Objectives
The main objective of CBTC is to increase capacity by reducing the time interval (headway)
between trains. Traditional signaling systems detect trains in discrete sections of the track called 'blocks',
each protected by signals that prevent a train entering an occupied block. Since every block is a fixed
section of track, these systems are referred to as fixed block systems. In a moving block CBTC system the
protected section for each train is a "block" that moves with and trails behind it, and made to the system
as a whole by continuous communication of the train's exact position via some kind of communication
like such as radio or inductive loop.

As a result, Bombardier opened the world's first radio-based CBTC system at San Francisco
airport's Automated People Mover (APM) in February 2003. A few months later, in June
2003, Ahlstrom introduced the railway application of its radio technology on the Singapore North East
Line. Previously, CBTC has its former origins in the loop based systems developed by Alcatel
SEL (now Thales) for the Bombardier Automated Rapid Transit (ART) systems in Canada during the
mid-1980s. These systems, which were also referred to as Transmission-Based Train Control (TBTC),
made use of inductive loop transmission techniques for track to train communication, introducing an
alternative to track circuit based communication. This technology, operating in the 30–
60 kHz frequency range to communicate trains and wayside equipment, was widely adopted by
the metro operators in spite of some electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) issues, as well as other
installation and maintenance concerns. See SeaTac for further information regarding Transmission-

As with new application of any technology, some problems arose at the beginning mainly due to
compatibility and interoperability aspects. However, there have been relevant improvements since then,
and currently the reliability of the radio-based communication systems has grown significantly.
Moreover, it is important to highlight that not all the systems using radio communication technology are
considered to be CBTC systems. So, for clarity and to keep in line with the state-of-the-art solutions for
operator's requirements, this article only covers the latest moving block principle based (either true block
or virtual block, so not dependent on track-based detection of the trains) CBTC solutions that make use of
the radio communications.

3. Working of CBTC
3.1 Architecture

The typical architecture of a modern CBTC system comprises the following main subsystems:

1. Wayside equipment, which includes the interlocking and the subsystems controlling every zone
in the line or network (typically containing the wayside ATP and ATO functionalities).
Depending on the suppliers, the architectures may be centralized or distributed. The control of the
system is performed from a central command ATS, though local control subsystems may be also
included as a fallback.

2. CBTC onboard equipment, including ATP and ATO subsystems in the vehicles.
3. Train to wayside communication subsystem, currently based on radio links.

Fig 3.1.1: CBTC General Architecture

Thus, although CBTC architecture is always depending on the supplier and its technical approach, the
following logical components may be found generally in a typical CBTC architecture:

 Onboard ETCS system: This subsystem is in charge of the continuous control of the train speed
according to the safety profile, and applying the brake if it is necessary. It is also in charge of the
communication with the wayside ATP subsystem in order to exchange the information needed for a

safe operation (sending speed and braking distance, and receiving the limit of movement authority for
a safe operation).
 Onboard ATO system: It is responsible for the automatic control of the traction and braking effort
in order to keep the train under the threshold established by the ATP subsystem. Its main task is
either to facilitate the driver or attendant functions, or even to operate the train in a fully automatic
mode while maintaining the traffic regulation targets and passenger comfort. It also allows the
selection of different automatic driving strategies to adapt the runtime or even reduce the power
 Wayside ETCS system: This subsystem undertakes the management of all the communications with
the trains in its area. Additionally, it calculates the limits of movement authority that every train must
respect while operating in the mentioned area. This task is therefore critical for the operation safety.
 Wayside ATO system: It is in charge of controlling the destination and regulation targets of every
train. The wayside ATO functionality provides all the trains in the system with their destination as
well as with other data such as the dwell time in the stations. Additionally, it may also perform
auxiliary and non-safety related tasks including for instance alarm/event communication and
management, or handling skip/hold station commands.
 Communication system: The CBTC systems integrate a digital networked radio system by means
of antennas or leaky feeder cable for the bi-directional communication between the track equipment
and the trains. The 2,4GHz band is commonly used in these systems (same as Wi-Fi), though other
alternative frequencies such as 900 MHz (US), 5.8 GHz or other licensed bands may be used as well.
 ATS system: The ATS system is commonly integrated within most of the CBTC solutions. Its main
task is to act as the interface between the operator and the system, managing the traffic according to
the specific regulation criteria. Other tasks may include the event and alarm management as well as
acting as the interface with external systems.
 Interlocking system: When needed as an independent subsystem (for instance as a fallback system),
it will be in charge of the vital control of the trackside objects such as switches or signals, as well as
other related functionality. In the case of simpler networks or lines, the functionality of the
interlocking may be integrated into the wayside ATP system.

Fig 3.1.2: Description of working parts of the architecture

3.2 Working of CBTC

3.2.1 CBTC and moving block

CBTC systems are modern railway signaling systems that can mainly be used in urban railway
lines (either light or heavy) and APMs, although it could also be deployed on commuter lines. For main
lines, a similar system might be the European Railway Traffic Management System ERTMS Level 3. In
the modern CBTC systems the trains continuously calculate and communicate their status via radio to the
wayside equipment distributed along the line. This status includes, among other parameters, the exact
position, speed, travel direction and braking distance. This information allows calculation of the area
potentially occupied by the train on the track. It also enables the wayside equipment to define the points
on the line that must never be passed by the other trains on the same track. These points are
communicated to make the trains automatically and continuously adjust their speed while maintaining
the safety and comfort (jerk) requirements. So, the trains continuously receive information regarding the
distance to the preceding train and are then able to adjust their safety distance accordingly.

Fig 3.2.1: Safety distance

From the signaling system perspective, the first figure shows the total occupancy of the leading train by
including the whole blocks which the train is located on. This is due to the fact that it is impossible for the
system to know exactly where the train actually is within these blocks. Therefore, the fixed block system
only allows the following train to move up to the last unoccupied block's border.

A CBTC system based on moving block allows the reduction of the safety distance between two
consecutive trains. This distance is varying according to the continuous updates of the train location and
speed, maintaining the safety requirements. This results in a reduced headway between consecutive trains
and an increased transport capacity.

3.2.2 Levels of automation

Modern CBTC systems allow different levels of automation or Grades of Automation (GoA), as
defined and classified in the IEC 62290-1. In fact, CBTC is not a synonym for "driverless" or "automated
trains" although it is considered as a basic technology for this purpose. The grades of automation
available range from a manual protected operation, GoA 1 (usually applied as a fallback operation mode)
to the fully automated operation, GoA 4 (Unattended Train Operation, UTO). Intermediate operation
modes comprise semi-automated GoA 2 (Semi-automated Operation Mode, STO) or driverless GoA 3
(Driverless Train Operation, DTO). The latter operates without a driver in the cabin, but requires an
attendant to face degraded modes of operation as well as guide the passengers in the case of emergencies.
The higher the GoA, the higher the safety, functionality and performance levels must be.

Fig 3.2.1: Grades of Automation

3.2.3 Main applications

CBTC systems allow optimal use of the railway infrastructure as well as achieving
maximum capacity and minimum headway between operating trains, while maintaining the safety

requirements. These systems are suitable for the new highly demanding urban lines, but also to be
overlaid on existing lines in order to improve their performance.

Of course, in the case of upgrading existing lines the design, installation, test and commissioning stages
are much more critical. This is mainly due to the challenge of deploying the overlying system without
disrupting the revenue service.

3.2.4 Main benefits

The evolution of the technology and the experience gained in operation over the last 30 years
means that modern CBTC systems are more reliable and less prone to failure than older train control
systems. CBTC systems normally have less wayside equipment and their diagnostic and monitoring tools
have been improved, which makes them easier to implement and, more importantly, easier to maintain.
CBTC technology is evolving, making use of the latest techniques and components to offer more compact
systems and simpler architectures. For instance, with the advent of modern electronics it has been
possible to build in redundancy so that single failures do not adversely impact operational availability.
Moreover, these systems offer complete flexibility in terms of operational schedules or timetables,
enabling urban rail operators to respond to the specific traffic demand more swiftly and efficiently and to
solve traffic congestion problems. In fact, automatic operation systems have the potential to significantly
reduce the headway and improve the traffic capacity compared to manual driving systems.

Finally, it is important to mention that the CBTC systems have proven to be more energy efficient than
traditional manually driven systems. The use of new functionalities, such as automatic driving strategies
or a better adaptation of the transport offer to the actual demand, allows significant energy savings
reducing the power consumption.

3.2.5 Risks

The primary risk of an electronic train control system is that if the communications link between
any of the trains is disrupted then all or part of the system might have to enter a failsafe state until the
problem is remedied. Depending on the severity of the communication loss, this state can range from
vehicles temporarily reducing speed, coming to a halt or operating in a degraded mode until
communications are re-established. If communication outage is permanent some sort of contingency
operation must be implemented which may consist of manual operation using absolute block or, in the
worst case, the substitution of an alternative form of transportation. As a result, high availability of CBTC
systems is crucial for proper operation, especially if such systems are used to increase transport capacity
and reduce headway. System redundancy and recovery mechanisms must then be thoroughly checked to
achieve a high robustness in operation. With the increased availability of the CBTC system, there is also a

need for extensive training and periodical refresh of system operators on the recovery procedures. In fact,
one of the major system hazards in CBTC systems is the probability of human error and improper
application of recovery procedures if the system becomes unavailable.

In principle, CBTC systems may be designed with centralized supervision systems in order to improve
maintainability and reduce installation costs. If so, there is an increased risk of a single point of failure
that could disrupt service over an entire system or line. Fixed block systems usually work with distributed
logic that is normally more resistant to such outages. Therefore, a careful analysis of the benefits and risks
of a given CBTC architecture (centralized vs. distributed) must be done during system design.

When CBTC is applied to systems that previously ran under complete human control with operators
working on sight it may actually result in a reduction in capacity (albeit with an increase in safety). This is
because CBTC operates with less positional certainty than human sight and also with greater margins for
error as worst-case train parameters are applied for the design (e.g. guaranteed emergency brake rate vs.
nominal brake rate). For instance, CBTC introduction in Philly's Center City trolley tunnel resulted
initially in a marked increase in travel time and corresponding decrease in capacity when compared with
the unprotected manual driving. This was the offset to finally eradicate vehicle collisions which on-sight
driving cannot avoid and showcases the usual conflicts between operation and safety.

3.3 Wayside Components

 Radio Block centre: The EBI Com Radio Block Centre (RBC) continuously receives train
positioning data via radio signal, processes it and sends it to a track plan system which clearly
shows the exact position of each train.
 Train to Track Communication: The system communication network provides a private, secure
and redundant communications path between the wayside and the onboard ATC equipment. The
transmission of this data is made possible by the use of both the fiber optic transmission system
and the radio equipment.EBI Link ATC wayside equipment utilizes passive ‘tags’ containing
location data. EBI Link tags are used for the‘re-normalization’ of the train’s accumulated position
 Discreet and safe point machines: Bombardier Transportation has a full range of EBI Switch
point machines, some of which can be positioned within sleepers or the recesses of the rails
providing a flush and undetectable finish at street level. The EBI Switch point machines are
designed to provide increased availability on the rail network and cost-effective maintenance of
the complete turnout.

 Flexible control: The CITYFLO 450 CBTC solution also includes the EBI Lock computer-based
interlocking (CBI). The interlocking systems receive route setting commands from the traffic
management centre and then safely lock the route ahead of the train, releasing it after the train
passes. The EBI Lock supervises and controls wayside objects such as signals, point machines,
balises and level crossing protection.

Fig: 3.3.1 Sideway Components

3.4 Onboard Components

 Speed: The EBI Cab onboard ATC system increases traffic capacity and safety, allowing for
higher speeds and shorter headways between trains, as well as providing higher availability.
The EBI Cab onboard ATP ensures that the train does not exceed the permitted rail speeds. The
train speed is constantly monitored by the system and if necessary the EBI Cab system
automatically initiates braking to keep the train at a safe speed.

 Energy saving driver assistance: The EBI Cab onboard ATC equipment includes the
functionality to assist train drivers during a journey by optimizing their driving style with a view
to conserving energy. With this system it is possible to make automatic recommendations to the
driver concerning velocity and acceleration or deceleration in order to minimize the energy
required to run a train according to its allotted timetable. EBI Cab systems may not only generate
energy consumption savings, but also ensure that trains arrive on time.

Fig: 3.4.1 Onboard Components

3.5 Control Room Components

 Diagnostics, engineering and maintenance: Engineering and preventative maintenance
servicing for CITYFLO solutions can be planned efficiently and in advance with EBI Tool Design
and Maintenance which automatically provides a maintenance schedule for wayside
equipment. EBI Tool is also ideal for reconfiguring existing interlocking systems when the
system is upgraded or extended. Bombardier Transportation’s diagnostics and monitoring
equipment is designed to detect inconsistencies in performance, driver behaviors, dwell time at
stations or any operational anomalies which might contribute to service delays. Our diagnostics
systems can also help to identify any unexpected occurrences such as door failures or overshoots
at stations which will highlight any potential maintenance issues. This technical data insight
provides the solution with predictive maintenance capabilities.

 Traffic management: EBI Screen control room is a visual display traffic monitoring system for
efficient and economic management of mass transit networks which gives the operator total
management of the traffic, including playback functionality.


Fig: 3.5.1 Control Room Components

3.6 System Types

3.6.1 CITYFLO 450

 Virtual block system: CITYFLO 450 is a communication-based train control (CBTC) virtual
block system designed for metros with drivers. The system is used for virtual block semi-
automatic running of trains (STO) on segregated tracks and has the potential for upgrading to a
driverless system. The system has the following characteristics:

 CBTC metro virtual block system

 Driving supported by EBI Cab vehicle automatic train protection (VATP) / vehicle automatic
train operation (VATO) (STO level)
 Automatic train protection (ATP) information through spread spectrum radio
 Automatic train operation (ATO) functionality with continuous driving strategy modification
 Segregated track
 Train detection by radio transmissions of train positions
 Continuous train supervision through EBI Screen control room

Fig: 3.6.1 CITYFLO 450

3.6.2 CITYFLO 650

 A new generation for driverless automated transit systems: CITYFLO 650 is a system for
driverless (DTO) or unattended (UTO) train operations designed for moving block advanced
metro operations and airport people movers (APM). The track to train communication is achieved
via a state-of-the-art wireless technology to provide bi-directional communication. The system is
used for automatic running of trains on segregated tracks.

With its pioneering advances in Communication Based Train Control (CBTC) solutions Bombardier
supports system optimization and upgrade, provides a new dimension in overlay capability and tackles the
capacity challenge. CITYFLO 650 is now operational in seventeen locations around the globe. The system
has the following main characteristics:

 Communications-based train control (CBTC) APM/metro moving block system

 Driving supported by ATP EBI Cab vehicle automatic train protection (VATP) / vehicle
automatic train operation (VATO) (DTO/UTO level)
 Automatic train protection (ATP) information through spread spectrum radio
 Automatic train operation (ATO) functionality with continuous driving strategy modification
 Segregated track
 Train detection by radio transmissions of train positions
 Continuous train supervision through EBI Screen control room
 EBI Lock integrated interlocking function or EBI Lock computer-based interlockings
 Point machines controlled by interlocking
 Optional SCAD

Fig: 6.2.1 CITYFLO 650

Fig: 6.2.2 CITYFLO 450/650

4. Comparison between existing system and CBTC
For all three of Australia’s largest metropolitan rail networks, Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane,
Consideration is given to the introduction of modern train control. The most visible progress has been
achieved in Sydney where the local rail operator Rail Corp already conducted trials with four supplying
parties of what is referred to as ATP, but what in fact is ETCS Level 1 as an overlay to the existing
signaling system.
Two of various reasons for choosing ETCS appear to be the most compelling:
 ETCS was developed in Europe for use on dense rail networks which have similar characteristics
as the suburban networks in the biggest Australian cities.
 The development of ETCS as result of working groups between six major rail signaling suppliers,
all of which do business in Australia, has led to a competitive multi-vendor market where railway
operators have the freedom of choice between suppliers and virtual guarantee of long-term
support for the ETCS technology due to its wide use within Europe and worldwide.
The simplest way of migrating to ETCS is to overlay it to the existing signaling system. Although this
can be achieved with almost no change to the characteristics of the established signaling, such as
operational principles or length of fixed block sections, it cannot address inherent limitations of that
signaling system with regards to its capacity and performance.
There are two different levels of ETCS available. ETCS Level 1 provides intermittent train control by
signal transmission to the train via balises. Additional balises can be installed between signal related
balises locations to provide ‘infill’ between signals. ETCS Level 2 uses GSM-R data radio for signal
transmission between trackside and train and provides continuous train control.
While ETCS was specified and developed for application of European main line rail networks, the
development of train control systems for mass transit lines such as metro has a much clearer emphasis on
optimizing line capacity. The most modern train control system is ATO achieved with CBTC technology
using moving block signaling (Note that CBTC is sometimes also referred to as TBTC, depending on the
transmission media used.)
With CBTC, the train position is determined in small increments, allowing more precise position
information to be transmitted continuously via radio. The permitted distance between trains is then
calculated dependent on train speeds and positions, allowing flexibly moving distances between trains
which can be much shorter than for conventional signaling with fixed block lengths.
In today’s railway industry, CBTC represents the most popular train control approach to increase
network performance.

5. Advantage Of CBTC
Around the world, railway operators are looking for ways to increase train capacity and improve
railway infrastructure. Through the use of exact, real-time train information, Communication-Based
Train Control (CBTC) offers a solution to capacity challenges, while avoiding the need for expensive
and disruptive civil engineering capital projects. If you’re connected to the transportation industry,
you need to know the real story behind CBTC and how it plays out in real-world applications. It’s
critical for you and your team to dive deeper into its benefits – and risks. At a high level, CBTC
overcomes the traditional challenges of railway systems by making use of telecommunications
between the train and track equipment for real-time traffic management and infrastructure control. It
is also the technology behind driverless or fully-automated trains. A CBTC system enables shorter,
lighter and faster trains running more closely together to increase capacity over longer trains running
on a fixed block signaling system.

There are many benefits of using CBTC in your railway’s infrastructure. The top three include:

1. Pinpoint Train Locations. With CBTC, you can know the precise position of a train at any
given time.

2. Communicate Instantly between Trains and Station. With constant communication between
the trains and the trackside, CBTC enables you to maximize capacity and shorten the distance or
time between trains.

3. Prevent Failure of Critical Systems. With CBTC, you can manage railway traffic and speed in a
more efficient and safe way.

Overall, the increased understanding of train positioning, the continuous communication between the
trains and control center and the enhanced safety features makes it easier to run a more flexible railway

So what does this increased flexibility mean to you? You can:

 Run trains faster and closer together during peak times and slower and further apart during slow

 Use passenger counting systems to manage the flow of people in stations for shorter lines and less
waiting for your passengers

 React to any issues in real time, including immediate knowledge of accidents and how to manage
around them

 Monitor and manage electricity and energy use on the trains, reducing operating costs

6. Disadvantage of CBTC
While CBTC’s use of continuous, bi-directional communication between trains and the control
room provides numerous benefits, it’s important to understand the potential risks. Many challenges
with CBTC stem from the demanding railway environment and the high speed of moving trains.Poor
train-to-ground communication performance can result in temporary reduction in speed, a complete
train stop, or a train operating in a degraded mode until communications is restored.

These risks are exactly why CBTC networks require an extremely high level of availability and low
latency .How do you know if your network meets CBTC requirements? This table outlines what your
network needs to deliver the CBTC benefits we’ve outlined. It also indicates how Belden can help you
meet them.

CBTC Network Belden’s Solution


Fast Roaming. For safety Belden’s products offer seamless Layer 3 roaming with a
reasons, any disruption in the 0 ms handover time.
CBTC service will bring trains
to a stop. Because of this, a
roaming handover time of less
than 50 ms is essential.

Error Tolerance. Loss of the Belden’s redundancy measures and interference immunity
data being transmitted will ensure no data is lost.
result in system errors, so a
packet loss of less than 0.1
percent is required.

Network Latency. To ensure Belden ensures latency under 5 ms. Parallel redundancy
real-time control, the protocol (PRP) always forwards the fastest packet.
maximum latency must be less
than 5 ms.

Sufficient Bandwidth. To Belden’s wireless local area network (WLAN) devices

carry the required data, your provide high throughput rates for both today’s demands
network must have a and future scalability.
bandwidth of at least 4 Mbit/s.
Fig: 6.1 Choosing the right network components and cable is essential to meeting the availability
and latency requirements for a fully functioning CBTC network.

Belden’s wireless train-to-ground communication solution meets each CBTC requirement. Belden’s
Hirschman brand delivers a robust wireless train-to-ground communication solution for high speed rail
applications, offering seamless roaming and zero packet loss.