As summer turns to autumn, the Digirail project is moving forward at a fast pace. In the autumn, especially the procurement for the first commercial track (EKA) will require a lot of work that will continue until the end of the year. Solutions related to the use of the radio network will also need to be resolved.

Autumn is a busy time for Digirail, where the biggest contract is the procurement of the Lielahti-Pori/Rauma EKA track section as a whole. The scope of the work is revealed by the fact that, in addition to approximately sixty experts, several people specialising in procurement are also involved with the procurement work. In terms of schedules, most of the work is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

Jari Pylvänäinen, Project Manager of Digirail’s KVV alliance at Fintraffic, says that the aim is to gain knowledge of how projects such as the new system introduced by Digirail are built, designed and implemented as a whole.

“Of course, there is a lot of familiar elements in this, but no ERTMS project of this type has been implemented in Finland before. This means that we would have the first track section equipped and in operating condition in line with the new modern requirements,” Pylvänäinen says.

Pylvänäinen points out that although active work is required with procurements towards the end of the year, the work as a whole shall be carried out over a period of several years. The aim is to be ready to build the rest of Finland’s tracks within a time span of five years.

Decisions expected on European Union’s radio network policy lines

This autumn, we are also waiting to hear about decisions by the European Union on radio network policy lines. Digirail’s cooperation with the EU has been active, and dialogue with the rapporteurs for the opinions and the international agencies has functioned well. However, other countries do not have a similar pace with their schedules, so they are not applying pressure to define the regulatory aspects in more detail.

Pylvänäinen says that the time has come to decide whether Finland intends to place more emphasis on national requirements or European interoperability as it moves forward.

“Decisions have to be made, and if European regulation does not bring us the desired results, we will be forced to find solutions to the problems in order to stay on schedule.”

Openness and good cooperation

Pylvänäinen highlights good cooperation and the coping of the experts working together in the project as the most important themes for the remainder of the year. In intensive project work, sometimes people will pay less attention to their own coping.

“This project is being implemented for Finland, and we have high expectations for our goals to create and introduce something new. Of course, it brings pressure, and this is evident in everyone’s work load. This is why it is particularly important to talk about leaving room for learning and development even in the midst of pressure.”

Pylvänäinen emphasises that Digirail employees work on a long-term basis.

“In sports terms, one could say that a year with us is more like a sprint and the entire project could be viewed as a marathon. We want our experts to enjoy their work and keep going through the entire project from start to finish.”