Yves Joannic
Vice-President Main Line Signalling
Thales’ Main Line Signalling solutions are designed to boost the performance of passenger and freight networks. Yves Joannic, Vice-President Main Line Signalling, describes how digitalisation is transforming competitiveness.


Green issues are a big driver for our customers – particularly given the policy focus at EU level. Our customers want to capitalise on their eco-credentials. They need ways to run more trains, reduce costs and improve competitiveness. All of this can be achieved with digital technology.


We support our customers in two ways. First, we focus on life cycle costs. This means providing customers with solutions that they can acquire, operate and maintain at a reasonable cost. Customer satisfaction is the engine of our strategy: always deliver, deliver, deliver – no matter how complex the project. 


Innovation is our second priority. Thales is an innovation company and we stay in front by putting new concepts on the table. The key trend here is digitalisation – using hardware and software to get more out of the infrastructure that’s already there. And always improving the customer experience.

Standardisation is important. It’s about enabling a plug-and-play railway, with standard hardware to support the different software applications and digital services we are developing. In future, our customers will upgrade their signalling just by uploading new software.


The work we are doing in Stuttgart for Deutsche Bahn underlines the scope of what we do. This is a comprehensive digitalisation programme, which includes the latest version of ETCS Level 2 digital signalling and Automatic Train Operation. This will help to increase the capacity of the existing rail infrastructure by 20%. All of this is being achieved without laying a single kilometre of new track – everything is driven by data. 


This project is significant in another way as well, because it highlights our expertise in brownfield resignalling. This is technically demanding, because work must be carried out with minimum disruption. It underlines the trust that our customer has put in us.


The future for rail is bright. The technologies we are developing will make it brighter still. For example, we are leading a consortium working on autonomous passenger trains for SNCF and bringing in satellite positioning and obstacle detection so trains can make their own decisions.


Underpinning all of this is cybersecurity. This is mandatory – at product level, at system level and at global architecture level. All our solutions are Cybersecured by Design and this includes constant adaptation to evolving threats. Safety is at the heart of everything we do.