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First field test with ERTMS Trackbot successful

In the week of 17 to 21 June, we tested the ERTMS Trackbot at Dronryp station. The tracks were out of service due to planned engineering works at the Leeuwarden railway yard. It was the ERTMS Trackbot’s first time to install axle counters and balises on a real track section and in accordance with a real design.

The main objectives were: battery life tests, testing the cycle to install axle counters and balises and testing the ERTMS Trackbot at night. A big side effect is that we now have a blueprint for the deployment of the Trackbot in the future. The tests were successful and all main goals were achieved. We learned a lot about working with the ERTMS Trackbot in practice and the logistical challenges that come with it, such as charging a battery.

In addition, during the preparation phase, we used the Strukton Reality Model to check whether axle counters and balises could be installed in practice in accordance with the design (IMX). This makes the added value of the Strukton Reality Model tangible.


The tests were an important milestone. We have shown that the ERTMS Trackbot works in a real railway environment. We will use the lessons learned to further mature the ERTMS Trackbot, working towards an assembly robot that can be used in practice by the end of 2024 within certain frameworks (such as Thales/Alstom Compact Eurobalises on NS90 sleepers and Thales Gast NL axle counters on UIC54 rail). It is important to note, however, that first the preconditions should be created in the sector to be able to work with robots, such as adjustments to installation regulations.

Huge thank you

Special thanks to the ERTMS Trackbot team, to Geert Datema and Rick Valk from the OEL project and to Wim Jagers from the ASAP ERTMS project. “Thanks to the enormous drive in the ERTMS Trackbot team, we have been able to make a lot of test metres. A huge thank you to the other colleagues who came to lend a helping hand!”, says Corné van de Kraats, development engineer at Strukton Rail Netherlands.

PS: After testing, we removed the balises and axle counters again.

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Thanks to the enormous drive in the ERTMS Trackbot team, we have been able to make a lot of test metres

About the ERTMS Trackbot

The ERTMS Trackbot is a smart assembly robot that will independently install axle counters and balises in the track, in a safe and sustainable way. The robot automatically places the axle counters and balises in the track and digitises the information. It finds the exact geographical location, drills the holes and mounts the axle counters or balises.

Innovating together

The ERTMS Trackbot is one of eleven innovations that market parties are developing in collaboration with ProRail in the ASAP project (Dutch tender for fast implementation of ERTMS). ERTMS is the new European train safety system. Some fifty thousand balises and more than twenty thousand axle counters have to be installed in the Netherlands on behalf of the implementation of ERTMS. This is repetitive and physically demanding work, which the Trackbot will take over. Strukton Rail is developing the ERTMS Trackbot in close collaboration with AMT, No Man Trackwork, ProRail and with the help of the innovation programme Europe’s Rail Joint Undertaking.

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