In the case of a supply contract for a new rail vehicle, manufacturers are obliged to obtain the necessary approvals for the products sold in good time. Penalised availability guarantees are also agreed so that due to both factors, a comprehensive test run programme is carried out long before the customer handover to prove the necessary technical parameters and reliability. On top of the applicable European guidelines, the manufacturer must also comply with any national requirements that relate to features specific to the country concerned. So, for example, proof of brake systems, derailment safety and driving technology can also be provided in countries other than the subsequent country of operation, while train safety systems and electromagnetic interferences are usually subject to national consideration.
During this phase, which can last several months, RailAdventure deals with the logistics between the test sites and handles the rail operations of the actual test runs. The service we provide starts a few months before the first dynamic test when we determine and agree the technical and operational compensatory measures to achieve the required level of safety and obtain the required approval. Besides needing an extensive and holistic knowledge of the railway system and its subsystems, this also requires in-depth knowledge of railway technology and experience of rail operations so we can correctly and safely integrate the new vehicle technology during the test phase into the whole railway system.
Accredited institutes are commissioned to test each different aspect of the vehicle. After coordinating the test run programme with the relevant experts, we review the feasibility with the infrastructure operator. In addition to any technical issues, we also have to review the options from an operational point of view as they must be timed to fit in between the regular trains that are running. Our application and approval management team are also constantly taking into account the findings from completed runs and updating the approval situation in close coordination with the authorities and infrastructure operators.
Some test runs are carried out in towed form whilst other units under test are already being driven under their own power. Our “Zughotel” in Braunschweig is available for prior equipment with measurement technology, such as measuring wheel sets and a pantograph measuring system.
Concentration and experience
Test runs also demand maximum levels of concentration from our test managers and locomotive drivers. Runs taken at speeds that are sometimes significantly higher than those permitted in regular operation or runs carried out with the train protection system switched off sometimes require three people to be in the driver’s cab. For example, on runs in the “Green Wave” operating procedure used in Germany, the operations test manager is in constant communication with the test engineers monitoring the measurement and limit values, while the second locomotive driver concentrates on the predetermined brake threshold and assists the first locomotive driver. Discipline on board and constant communication with the personnel involved in the trial are the key parameters we guarantee to ensure it is carried out in a safe manner.
The opening and liberalisation of European rail transport allows, for example, for a train to be built in Germany for a Norwegian customer and for it then to complete the majority of its test runs in Spain. This happens despite the fact that it is classified on the German rail network as extra wide due to its large dimensions.
Having handled over one hundred test campaigns throughout Europe, RailAdventure has a wealth of experience handling test runs. Our neutrality and openness enables us to collaborate with a wide variety of testing institutes as well as our customer’s preferred service provider.
As an interim operator, we look after maintenance supervision, security services for vehicle surveillance and any administrative issues with the energy suppliers. Our industry customers are able to fully focus on their brand-new rail vehicles while we handle the whole preliminary operation before they are subsequently put into regular operation.