News from the Conference on Fire Safety of Rail Vehicles in Leverkusen, Germany

The German Fire Safety of Rail Vehicles Conference (Brandschutztag Schienenfahrzeuge) took place at the Chemiepark Leverkusen, Germany on 31 May 2006 and was organised by the Bayer Fire Testing Laboratory together with Prof. Wittbecker from the University of Wuppertal. Around 160 persons attended the conference focusing on national and European regulations and standardisation for the fire protection of rail vehicles. The papers dealt with new developments in European harmonisation and on the German national level in the frame of the standards EN 45545 and DIN 5510 Part 2. The most important papers given were:

Potrafke, EBC, "Changes Regarding TSI Approvals vs. National Regulations" gave on overview of the European directives on the interoperability of the transeuropean railway system, technical specifications for interoperability (TSI), and the related European standards. Products used in rail vehicles must comply with the essential requirements (ER) like safety, health, environmental protection, etc., defined in the directives. The manufacturer is free to use harmonised standards or any other technical solutions if they comply with the ER. He is also allowed to use the currently still existing national standards.

Reimann, Bombardier, "Requirements for Electrical Equipment of Rail Vehicles by prEN 45545" covered the new requirements in Part 5 of this standard. They exclude the use of halogens for cables because they do not pass the toxicity and corrosivity tests (no HF, HCl and HBr). This also applies for other electrical equipment. For parts < 0.25 m² and components < 100 g weight for interior use (< 400 g for exterior use), there are no toxicity tests required and products containing halogens may be used.

Halfmann, Bayer Industry Services, Fire Technology, "Status prEN 45545 and Draft DIN 5510-2" focussed on the work of EN 45545. It started in 1991 and will probably be finalised in 2010. As there have been many problems in introducing the 7 parts of EN 45545, it has now been temporarily transformed into the technical specification prCEN/TS 45545, and its 7 parts are to be published as a whole in 2007. This allows speeding up the standardisation procedure. Afterwards, it will be revised and the final version of EN 45545 will become effective as a standard in 2010. In the meantime, TS 45545 will be used for meeting the TSI requirements. There are 13 different fire tests used in EN 45545-2, including smoke and toxicity tests. Until its withdrawal, the German DIN 5510-2 standard will have annexes with modified smoke and additional toxicity requirements (introduction end of 2006). They will be particularly relevant for seats and cables. The smoke test will be the smoke chamber to ISO 5659-2. It will also be used as a decomposition model for the toxicity tests together with the French quartz tube furnace of NF X 70-100.

Bansemer, IBW, Institute for Fire Technology, „Determination and Evaluation of Fire Gas Toxicity" gave an overview of fire gas toxicity, the toxic components selected for EN 45545 (the asphyxiants CO, CO2, HCN and the irritants NOx, SO2, HCl, HBr, HF), their detection by FTIR and the determination of the fractional effective dose (FED).

Troitzsch, Fire Protection Service, „Flame Retardants Systems for Plastics Applications in Rail Vehicles" gave an overview on the use of FR plastics in rail vehicles in the light of the new requirements and standards. The heat fluxes of 50 kW/m² used in the major new fire tests will virtually exclude the use of thermoplastics, elastomers and, through the toxicity requirements, halogen-containing materials, with the exception of small parts (see above Reimann). Only thermosets will survive.