Safe travelling at record speed - Prestige project VDE 8 on trial
The German Unity Transport Project will bring the regions of Germany and the countries of Europe closer together. However, interoperability and safety are critical to ensure the success of such a large project. In this context, TÜV SÜD Rail was commissioned to work with the Notified Body Eisenbahn-Cert to assess the requirements and elements of the demanding stage in terms of interoperability and safety.
As one of the core elements of the trans-European corridor from Scandinavia to the Mediterranean, the German Unity Transport Project 8 (VDE 8) brings both the regions of Germany and the countries of Europe closer together. Factors imperative for the success of such a large project particularly include interoperability and safety in addition to speed, environmental compatibility, suitability for mass transportation and feasibility.
The high speeds of up to 300 km/h planned for the project and the difficult topography require costly and labour-intensive civil engineering structures such as viaducts, tunnels and wind and sound barriers. The combination of the low-maintenance railway superstructure of the solid track and the long viaducts give rise to especially unique requirements. To live up to the claim of creating one of the world's safest transport systems, the tunnel structures in particular must meet high demands in the field of incident prevention, detection, self-rescue and rescue of others.
At these high speeds, reliable recognition and interpretation of fixed signals is barely possible for train drivers. Given this, the route requires cutting-edge automated train control and digital signalling systems. The European Train Control System (ETCS) forms part of a future Europe-wide railway control system that complies with uniform standards.
Because of its technical expertise and long-standing experience, TÜV SÜD Rail was commissioned to work with the Notified Body Eisenbahn-Cert to assess the requirements and elements of the demanding stage in terms of interoperability and safety.
Focus on design and system
Right from the design stage, independent third-party reviews and tests are intended to ensure smooth and successful interaction of large numbers of systems. TÜV SÜD Rail reviewed the route plans and the systems in place, from interlocking systems, transformer stations and train control systems to the safety illumination and emergency call systems for all 27 of the tunnels. Further areas included in testing were the alarm system and the security of data transmission.
Based on their extensive multi-disciplinary know-how, TÜV SÜD's rail experts are currently involved in a similar large-scale project – the construction of the first high-speed railway in Sweden, which will link the country’s three largest cities of Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö. Approval and licensing procedures for this project are similarly extensive and complex. Both projects need to fulfil both European and national requirements.
On-schedule construction and expansion
Testing of the new sections of VDE 8 started in September 2012. A total of almost 20 TÜV SÜD Rail experts and assessors ensured that safety was maximised, but also that the construction process benefited from better schedule control and cost savings, as potential difficulties at interfaces were identified and eliminated before they turned into problems.
TÜV SÜD is one of only a handful of companies covering the entire process from assessment of the first plans to driving tests of rolling stock – worldwide. The Rail Business Unit further offers certification and training along the entire value chain.