Training Train Drivers

ETCS Mobile Application - Learning with ease

A key component of the EU’s European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) command and control modernisation project is the European Train Control System (ETCS), the signalling and control element that serves to provide commonality across national railways, replacing legacy systems currently in operation. 

September 17, 2020

Simulation, Simsphere Train, Training, Train Drivers

Simsphere Train by HENSOLDT

Simsphere Train is a family of train driver training solutions based on decades of experience in the field and that provides an advanced integrated suite for driver training. Simsphere Train includes a wide range of simulation applications from full-motion simulators to tablet-based applications.

Simsphere Train can thus be used to train complex learning content that could otherwise only be carried out at high cost and with high risks for man and material.

The ETCS App is part of HENSOLDT’s Simsphere Train product family. The app enables train drivers to prepare for exams efficiently, mobile and individually.

The product also serves as a reference work that is always up-to-date with regard to the ETCS system. Drivers can thus easily extend their driver training to qualify for the latest ETCS standard.

ETCS - Introduction of a standardised system

There are many benefits to the introduction of a standardised system like ETCS across Europe, including commonality, reducing obsolescence, and most importantly, an increase in safety. However, in order to seamlessly introduce this level of standardisation, train operators need to be trained on how to use these systems, and making this as effortless, intuitive and cost effective as possible is of course preferable.

In accordance with the ETCS requirements train drivers need to demonstrate compliance at regular intervals, which requires the train driver to participate in simulation-based testing. In Germany, this testing is carried out on full motion simulators at Deutsche Bahn AG, Germany’s largest railway company, and drivers need to prove their ability to carry out cab-signalling and follow operating rules on ETCS systems.

An App part of a simulation suite

HENSOLDT – using its experience as a training systems provider – has recognised this need, and has developed a remote learning tool to enable drivers to better prepare for their mandatory testing. This tool forms part of HENSOLDT’s Simsphere Train product family, which also includes full motion simulators for immersive training, desktop trainers for entry training, and now, mobile solutions for ad hoc and currency learning.

“Our product is exactly what train drivers need to fulfil ETCS requirements; it is the future of train driving learning,” Hervé Wansi, Sales Director for Train Simulation at HENSOLDT, said. He added: “This new capability will help reduce the fail rate during train driving exams, and will in turn increase the availability of drivers by reducing the required training times. This means that the future train driver will be prepared for every eventuality, and can do so in an effective and timely manner.”


Our product is exactly what train drivers need to fulfil ETCS requirements; it is the future of train driving learning.

Hervé Wansi
Sales Director  for Train Simulation at HENSOLDT

Features of the ETCS App

HENSOLDT’s new ETCS mobile application will allow drivers to prepare for their testing at their own pace and in their own time, and will provide them with all tools required to demonstrate compliance.

System development of the new application is nearing completion, and HENSOLDT will bring this new product to market in the latter part of the year, with the German-speaking market the first target for the ETCS mobile application.

This includes Austria and Switzerland in addition to Germany, all of which have been actively working to ensure that their national train services are ETCS compliant, but this does not come without challenges.

Germany, for example, is expected to bring some 1,800 ETCS-compliant trains into service by 2023, and there are an estimated more than 40,000 train drivers in the country, all of which must be trained on how ETCS works. Therefore, having a system that allows to repeat training in an e-learning format combined with a train simulation gamification approach, until they are confident, is bringing a new and fresh approach and enhances efficiency.


Within this market it is innovative to offer e-learning with simulation like we are doing. It sounds simple, but the implementation is very complex, the result nevertheless incredibly effective.

Thomas Häuptle
Project Manager at HENSOLDT

Notably, the mobile nature of the new application will lend itself to this first target market, as all train drivers in Germany and Switzerland are required to carry a tablet as part of their job functions.

Additionally, simulation, animations and multiple tests found within the application will aid drivers with problem solving, while also providing an intuitive and easy way to access the information required.

“This product is very innovative. Our approach has novel features such as animations combined with exercises. We are at the top of our game and it is now time to bring it to the market,” Wansi continued.

“We are combining computer-based training and e-learning along with simulation,” Thomas Häuptle, Project Manager at HENSOLDT, added. “Within this market it is innovative to offer e-learning with simulation like we are doing. It sounds simple, but the implementation is very complex, the result nevertheless is incredibly effective.”

Despite the commonality aspect of ETCS and ERTMS, each train company inevitably differs somewhat in how it operates, as well as its choice of train models. The training solution for this requirement therefore must be as generic as possible to be applicable to a broad number of users, while also modular in design so that it can be tailored to different customer needs.

To this end, following on from the German language version of the ETCS mobile application, HENSOLDT has near-term plans to release French and English language versions of the software. An English language version is expected to be available by the end of the year, which is likely to appeal to nations such as the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark and India, to name a few.


Considering these needs and the market opportunities, this product is exactly what will help people retain their knowledge in line with ETCS in a suitable timeframe.

Hervé Wansi
Sales Director  for Train Simulation at HENSOLDT

Applicable and modular for companies across Europe and beyond

More markets across Europe – and indeed the rest of the world – will therefore have access to this game-changing training application. “The initial focus is the German market, followed by English and French speaking markets, but we see that ETCS is not only going to be used in Europe, despite it starting out as an EU initiative,” Häuptle noted. “For example, Saudi Arabia and Israel are also using ETCS, while China is using a similar system that is adapted from ETCS. So, there is a global market, and we are excited about the prospects that this new application could bring.”

So what does this new application mean for the future of ETCS driver training?

This is quite a revolution for this market, and will serve to help with several challenging issues, including driver availability, cost and time. Training can be costly if not conducted in an appropriate way, so this new approach is a far more cost-effective way of carrying out training, as opposed to training courses or solely relying on high-end devices such as full motion simulators.

Additionally, it could address the shortage of train drivers that Germany has suffered from for several years. Being able to carry out training on a personal device is therefore a more effective alternative compared to the traditional training school approach. “Considering these needs and the market opportunities, this product is exactly what will help people retain the train drivers’ knowledge in line with ETCS in a suitable timeframe,” Wansi said. “We see the market trend for us at present is directed towards ETCS, and we are confident that our new mobile application is very suitable offering for this requirement.”

Simsphere Train

Simsphere Train is a train driver training product family and is based on decades of experience in the field of train driver training and provides sophisticated integrated train driver training.