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Safe Technology for Rail Transport

Safe Technology for Rail Transport

Research Manager

The railway sector is undergoing changes in the whole of Europe (EU, EER, Eastern Europe). The EU Commission is both a driving force and monitor, and its target is to increase the proportion of railway transport by 100-150% within a short period.

In order to achieve this, work is going on to remove all technical and procedural barriers, so that there will be a borderless and effective railway network throughout Europe. This requires new technical/technological solutions and simplified procedures at all levels. This is not just a matter of upgrading existing equipment, there are also new requirements that will require new technologies. This results in a very dynamic market. In addition there are efforts within the EU/EER to harmonise and standardise the requirements for such systems and the approval processes.

Modern safety systems contain amongst other things signals, transponders (balises) and point switches, and are based increasingly on electronic components and computer based solutions. A large and ever growing part of the functionality, and thereby also of the safety, is realised by software. This means that the criteria and methods for assessing the safety of such systems are under constant change, whilst numerous different and sometimes new technologies must also be taken into consideration.

Train speeds have increased dramatically. The error margins have become tighter whilst the consequences of an error have become greater. This poses new demands on a safety system. In addition there are different rules and regulations in different countries, which again affects the criteria and methods for a safety assessment.

SINTEF has experience from the early 70-ties with safety assessments of signalling and interlocking systems for railbound transport in Scandinavia. As examples we can mention development of 1. generation PLC based signaling system NSB-94, the Gardermoen line to Oslo Airport, the Roslagen line in Stockholm and the Öresund Link between Copenhagen and Malmö. Our principal customers are the Scandinavian railway authorities and the suppliers of safety systems and their components including software. Basis for safety assessment and verification activities has been EN 50126, EN 50128, and EN 50129.

SINTEF has established a Centre for Railway Certification ("Senter for Jernbanesertifisering" - SJS). February 6, 2007 SINTEF was appointed as Notified Body (NB) for all rail sub-systems under council directive 96/48/EC on the interoperability of the trans-European high-speed rail system and on conventional rail systems . Earlier SINTEF has been notified for control-command and signalling systems for high speed rail systems (December 16, 2003 ) and conventional rail systems (September 27, 2005).

The appointments were done by the Norwegian Ministry of Transport and Communications. The European Union has been notified of this appointment to be implemented as an extension of SINTEF´s notification as Notified Body #1278.