Mariazell Railway: Route with a rich tradition and state-of-the-art safety standards

The HIMax and HIMatrix commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) controllers are the modular, scalable core of the interlocking system of the Austrian narrow gauge railway with a rich tradition.


A relaxed trip through the Alps

To reorganize operation of the Mariazell Railway in Eastern Austria in a more economical and safe manner, its operator, the Niederösterreichische Verkehrsorganisationsgesellschaft (NÖVOG), invested in a new SIL4-certified interlocking solution from the Austrian company RDCS Informationstechnologie GmbH (RDCS). Modular SIL4-certified safety controllers from HIMA are the heart of this RTMS/ILOCK-RC interlocking system.

HIMax, as well as HIMatrix controllers are used in the interlockings of the Mariazell Railway that connects St. Pölten and the Styrian pilgrimage site Mariazell. The COTS systems were a basic prerequisite to ensure that the interlocking solution from RDCS has been certified successfully in accordance with the SIL3 CENELEC EN 5012x standard.

The entire interlocking system from RDCS is based on a modular concept and its scalability is virtually unlimited. When using conventional controllers for the ILOCK-RC interlocking solution, this results in increased space requirements. This does not apply for the highly integrated HIMA controllers which are based on a modular 19" rack design and are exceptionally compact, yet comply with the same logical structure, and they grow commensurate with the tasks. Depending on the the size and space requirements of the interlocking system, the appropriate controller family is selected accordingly.

Safe data traffic

As part of the project, the three stations, St. Pölten Main Railway Station, St. Pölten Alpine Railway Station, and Laubenbachmühle were equipped by RDCS with independent interlocking systems (RTMS/ILOCK-RC) and a common operations management station center (RTMS/CENTRAL). The interlocking systems and the train protection system with cab-signalized train control operations ensure safe and trouble-free runs along the route of the Mariazell Railway in accordance with the existing service regulation.

Data traffic between the logical interlocking system head (ILOCK-HEAD-PLC) and the interlocking controllers (RTMS/ILOCK-RC PLCs) runs over redundant network connections and the HIMA safeethernet protocol that is certified in accordance with CENELEC EN 50128 SIL4. For the project planning of the interlocking system, RDCS used HIMA’s SILworX development interface, which likewise is CENELEC-compliant.

“The RTMS/ILOCK-RC interlocking, equipped with HIMA controllers, was designed to significantly increase the safety level on regional routes, as well as for industrial and factory railways. The SIL4-certified safety controllers are an elementary component of the RTMS product solution that enables railway operators worldwide to make rail traffic safer, more efficient, and more punctual."
Wolfgang Kanovsky, Chief Technology Officer at RDCS


The technical details

The RTMS/ILOCK-RC interlocking system is the central component of the RTMS operations management and train protection system from RDCS (RTMS stands for Rail Traffic Management System). It can be seamlessly integrated, however as a full-fledged SIL4-certified interlocking system it can also be used as a stand-alone product for regional passenger traffic, marshalling yards, engine sheds, as well as factory and industrial railways. The table below shows several typical deployment cases:


Configuration levelOutdoor installationsPLC familyInstallation location
ILOCK-RC Small interlocking systemUp to max. 8 switches
Up to max. 8 light signals
Up to 8 clear track sections
HIMatrix with extensions at I/O analog and count valuesExternal cabinets as well as interlocking control rooms
ILOCK-RC Interlocking systemUp to max. 32 switches
Up to max. 32 light signals
Up to 32 clear track sections
HIMatrix / HIMax Interlocking control rooms
ILOCK-RC Large interlocking systemFrom 32 to 512 switches (theoretically unlimited)
32 to 512 light signals (theoretically unlimited)
From 32 to 384 clear track sections (theoretically unlimited)
HIMax (with multiple racks)Interlocking control rooms

COTS solutions increase safety and reduce life-cycle costs

Highly-integrated in accordance with CENELEC 5012x, SIL4-certified HIMax and HIMatrix controllers enabled RDCS to develop the cost-efficient and scalable RTMS/ILOCK-RC interlocking solution, which makes rail traffic of the Mariazell Railway even safer. Also, open, modular COTS components contribute to reducing life-cycle costs.

  • Maximum safety: Safety controllers certified in accordance with SIL4 CENELEC 5012x
  • Safe data traffic: via safeethernet protocol and redundant network connections
  • Cost-efficiency: COTS controllers offer economic alternatives to cost-intensive proprietary safety systems
  • Scalability: HIMA safety systems are based on a modular and flexible design which grows with the requirements
The Mariazell Railway in Austria has improved safety protection and lowered lifecycle costs. All photos: © NÖVOG /
At three railway stations the interlockings are based on SIL 4-certified safety controllers from HIMA.

Narrow-gauge railway with a rich tradition

Loved by commuters and tourists alike: The Mariazell Railway. The electrified narrow-gauge railway, which started service in 1898, transports its passengers over an 84 km route through magnificent Alpine scenery from the Lower Austrian capital St. Pölten to the Styrian pilgrimage site Mariazell.

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