Details of planned amendments were published by the IGC in March 2010 and have now been found to be unobjectionable by ERA. Following the proposed new safety rules, the use of trains with distributed power is no longer prohibited in the Channel Tunnel.
Also, no objection was raised to use shorter and coupled trains in contrast to today’s 400m trains with a through corridor. After the ERA’s advice, the formal implementation of the new safety rules by the IGC could occur imminently.
Ulrich Homburg, Member of the DB Management Board for Passenger Transport, said: “This is an important stage in securing the technical clearance we need to deliver new high speed passenger rail services to and from London on Europe’s liberalised rail network.
“The report confirms that we are heading in the right direction with the IGC as we work towards clearance of our ICE-trains for the Channel Tunnel. Moreover, the report showed that the evidence we agreed to provide the IGC is sufficient to demonstrate the safe operation of our trains. However, we are only half way there to delivering the proposed services from 2013.”
Further work by DB will focus on the characteristics of shorter and coupled trains. Two coupled 200m ICE-trains have successfully been evacuated in October of last year in the Channel Tunnel. In addition to that an independent Swiss Engineering Consultancy is currently compiling a risk assessment which will be handed over to the IGC shortly. This is the same Consultancy which assessed the safety of the longest rail tunnel in the world, the 57km long Gotthard-Tunnel in Switzerland.
“Due to the positive ERA Report and our ongoing collaboration with the IGC we are optimistic to obtain clearance for our ICE-trains by early summer this year and before the August break. Subsequently we will expect to start full implementation later this year of our project to connect London to mainland Europe from 2013,” added Ulrich Homburg.