Electrified railway networks operate at a plethora of different voltages AC and DC varying from 750 to 25,000 volts, and signalling systems vary from country to country, hindering cross-border traffic. The reason for different track gauges between countries was mainly because of the idea of preventing trains from an invading country running on “your” track, but historically competition between railroads and perceived benefits of certain gauges also played a role in divergent standards. All this makes the construction of truly pan-European vehicles a challenging task and, until recent developments in locomotive construction, was mostly ruled out as being impractical and too expensive. The development of eurail pass map pdf integrated European high-speed rail network is overcoming some of these differences.
This means that by 2020 high-speed trains can travel from Italy to England, or Portugal to the Netherlands without the need for multi-voltage systems or breaks of gauge. Multiple incompatible signalling systems are another barrier to interoperability. The EU countries have 19 different signalling systems. EU’s project to unify signalling across Europe. All new high-speed lines and freight main lines funded partially by the EU are required to use level 1 or level 2 ETCS signalling. 1913 and came into force in 1914. This results in increased costs for purchasing trains as they must be specifically designed for the British network, rather than being purchased “off-the-shelf”.