Space Based Services for Railway Signalling

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  • EMITS referenceAO8038
  • ActivityFeasibility Study
  • Closing date17 November 2014

The objective of the Feasibility Study is to determine the technical feasibility and economic viability of an integrated satellite navigation and satellite communication solution complementing the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS).

Space Based Services for Railway Signalling (SBS-RailS) has the scope to analyse a solution based on GNSS and available augmentation systems in combination with satellite communications and other terrestrial means to be used in ERTMS solutions. The integrated application will take into account the needs of the users and will focus on the overall world market with a special attention to the European scenarios.

Nowadays, the adoption of ERTMS is limited by the high investment cost for the required infrastructure (train on-board equipment,  infrastructure along the tracks, GSM-R as communication solution, etc.) and by the subsequent maintenance costs. Therefore, ERTMS is typically implemented for high speed lines (HSL), where the high level of utilisation justifies such high investments; these costs represent an obvious barrier for the deployment of such high safety standard in non-High Speed Lines (e.g. Conventional Main Lines, Regional Lines, and Local Lines). The currently applied national safety standards do not always match the safety level provided by ERTMS. Taking into account the important role that satellites and related services can play in the railway domain, the study will analyse the requirements that a satellite aided ERTMS solution needs to satisfy in order to be attractive to the railway market.

Funding Scheme

Funded participation to ESA Business Applications is open to any company and/or organisation, be it as group of users, public body or non-governmental organisation, residing in any of those states that subscribe to the BASS programme.

To date, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxemburg, Spain, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom have subscribed.

The applicable funding level of the individual prime- or subcontractors is subject to authorisation by the involved National Delegation(s). Therefore bidding teams are requested to obtain a Letter of Authorisation from all their national delegations before submitting a Full Proposal.

Open Competitions


ESA Project Funding 
(up to % of eligible cost)

Funding Limit/ Activity Duration

Feasibility Study 50% up to 100%*  
Demonstration Project 50%  
Kick-start Activity 75%/80%** 60kEuro/ 64kEuro**
6 months


 * based on a consideration of the risks and maturity of the target market

** SMEs (i.e. enterprises fulfilling the criteria defined in the European Commission Recommendation of 6 May 2003 (2003/361/EC) or as updated) involved in Kick-Start Studies are funded at 80% 


Direct Negotiations (Call for Proposal)


ESA Project Funding 
(up to % of eligible cost)

Feasibility Study

Demonstration Project 50%*

* ESA will bear up to 50% of the acceptable project cost, and the remainder has to be financed by the tenderer and/or other partners through private and/or public sector direct or indirect, in cash or in-kind co-financing.

  • SMEs (i.e. enterprises fulfilling the criteria defined in the European Commission Recommendation of 6 May 2003 (2003/361/EC) or as updated) involved in Feasibility Studies or Demonstrations Projects, may be funded by ESA up to 80%.