RAILSAFE - Innovative Satellite-based Position, Navigation and Timing Concepts for New Railway Safety of Life Applications

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The RAILSAFE project is aimed at studying innovative concepts for the use of satellite navigation for train control. The project focuses on safety aspects, outlying a roadmap for applicable approaches for the short to middle term.


Augmentation systems such as SBAS or GBAS have been designed to support safety-of-life operations in the aviation domain. Applying the achievements made in the aviation domain to other applications with safety needs (such as railway, maritime or automotive transport) implies opening new markets with very important business opportunities, but it is a challenging task as different application domains have different needs and different operational conditions.

Eurobalises represent an important part of the infrastructure installation and maintenance costs associated with the deployment of ERTMS/ETCS. With the introduction of the virtual balise concept, significant savings are expected for the deployment of ETCS in local and regional lines.

On the other hand, reliability and safety requirements in the railway domain are extremely demanding, and physical trackside equipment such as Eurobalises have proved to be a technically suitable solution to cope with them. Ensuring the same performance levels with GNSS positioning is a very challenging task.

GNSS positioning is subject errors from many different sources. Some errors are caused by local agents (receiver noise, multipath, interference) whereas other, so-called system-level errors or faults are inherent to the GNSS infrastructure itself (ephemeris errors, satellite clock errors, satellite malfunctions). RAILSAFE addresses the integrity challenges from the GNSS infrastructure point of view, studying different approaches and technologies to face system-level threats.

RAILSAFE is aimed at exploring how different safety-enabled GNSS Augmentation techniques (such as SBAS, GBAS or RAIM) can be used or adapted to be used in the railway domain, thus fostering the adoption of GNSS technologies in a wider range of applications and contributing to the creation of new business opportunities, as an input to a GNSS roadmap for railways.

Current Status

The project is complete.

Prime Contractor


Project Managers

Contractor Project Manager

Miguel Azaola
Isaac Newton 11, PTM,
28760 Tres Cantos Madrid
+34 91 807 2100

ESA Project Manager

Giorgio Solari
8-10 Rue Mario Nikis
75015 Paris

Status Date

21 February 2018 - Created: 24 October 2016