Rail case study VDE8 Germany

RAIL CASE STUDY: VDE 8 project in Germany



Project VDE 8: Verification of high-speed track infrastructure and signalling technology including ETCS


CUSTOMER: DB Netz AG, Siemens AG, Axians GA Netztechnik GmbH

COUNTRY: Germany 


  • New construction / expansion of the line Berlin - Halle / Leipzig - Erfurt - Nuremberg with ETCS L2
  • Verification of track infrastructure, energy, and signalling
  • High-speed track with up to 300 km/h
  • Various double-track tunnels with emergency exits, firefighting systems, etc.
  • Concrete and steel viaducts up to 800 m including specific superstructure elements such as expansion joints or STOG-plates

PROJECT PERIOD: 09/2012 - 2020





German flag round

  • Assessment according to TSI INS HS / TSI SRT
  • Assessment against national rules according to the requirements of the national safety authority
  • Design verification of Siemens signalling technology, including European Train Control System (ETCS)
  • Plan checking and acceptance inspection of electrical engineering with transformer stations, tunnel safety lighting, grid feeders and earthing systems
  • Acceptance inspection of hazard detection systems with HOA / FBOA, MAS90, tunnel alarm, EMA / BMA and DBMAS


  • Relevant TSIs

What was the challenge?

The German Unity Transport Project (VDE) is one of the centerpieces of the trans-European corridor from Scandinavia to the Mediterranean. From 2012 to 2020, the extension of the high-speed railway line Berlin - Nuremberg was the longest construction yard in Germany. The line allows trains to run with peak velocities of up to 300 km/h.

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. These state-of-the-art train protections and digital signalling technology is required to ensure safety also during emergencies.

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 tunnel structures in particular must meet high demands in the field of incident prevention, detection, self-rescue and rescue of others.

Due to our expertise and many years of experience, our team 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.

What was our solution?

Testing of the new sections of VDE 8 started in September 2012. With almost 20 rail experts and assessors we 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.

Right from the design stage of the project, our expert team provided independent third-party reviews and tests to ensure smooth and successful interaction of the planned large number of systems. TÜV SÜD Rail reviewed the route plans and the systems in place, from interlocking systems, transformer stations and train control systems (ETCS) 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.


What was the customer benefit?

We ensured an interoperable and safe railway system including parameters as track gauge, clearance profile, track resistance, reliable civil works, and safe railway tunnels, including fire detection, resistance and fighting, as well as evacuation and rescue facilities.

The project benefited from improved schedule reliability and saved costs because interface problems were identified and eliminated in advance. We allowed for a flexible response to project requirements by allocating the service to several auditors.

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.

Working at such a large railway project like the VDE 8 is always enriching. Being confronted with several special project conditions like the high speed, the infrastructure with various tunnels and transition zones made this project very special to remember.

Dr. Gregor Supp

Head of Rail Infrastructure

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