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20/10/2017 Aerodynamics and ventilation in rail tunnels

TunnelTECH

Aerodynamics and ventilation in rail tunnels May 2015


P. Reinke, M. Flueckiger and T. Wicht, HBI Haerter Ltd, Berne, Switzerland
The need for secure, fast and environmentally friendly passenger and freight transportation prompts a need for the planning and construction of new
tunnels for rail transportation. As train speeds increase, the effects of tunnel aerodynamics on the design of tunnels and vehicles become more important.
Aerodynamics, rather than the size of trains or the economics of construction, might become the determining factor for the size or layout of rail tunnels
and are of increasing importance when designing and building tunnels.

Fig 1. Pressure patterns as measured in the Grauholz Tunnel in Switzerland and calculated by THERMOTUN (train at 200km/hr entering a 70m2 tunnel)
Planning of aerodynamics and the related climate and ventilation requires interfacing with engineering disciplines such as civil design, technical equipment
and railway technology. Aerodynamics, climate and ventilation of tunneling projects are important in projects characterized by the following:
high-speed rail tunnels
very long tunnels
steep tunnels
deep tunnels
high-performance underground or metro systems
high overburden resulting in high heat ingress from the ground
tunnels exposed to extreme climate conditions (wind at portals,
outside temperatures)

Civil measures can help eliminate non-acceptable aerodynamic conditions.


Aerodynamic issues related to tunnel engineering
When a train enters and travels through a tunnel, it behaves as a loosely fitting piston in a tube. At higher velocities, it becomes more noticeable that the
pressure and airflow field within the tunnel is being formed by the movement of distinct pressure waves. These waves pass down the tunnel at the speed
of sound, reflect from the portals, and then return to pass over the trains several times after successive reflections at the portals (and also at airshaft
junctions and from other trains in the tunnel). The interfering pressure changes are the cause for several aerodynamic phenomena of engineering interest,
including: pressure loads, pressure comfort, traction power, micro-pressure waves (sonic booms), tunnel climate, loads due to velocity, health limits
related to pressure changes, and comfort and safety related to air velocities.
Pressure fluctuations
A train entering a tunnel displaces air and instantly increases the pressure in the tunnel region at the train nose. The overpressure leads to some air
flowing back alongside the train and out of the entrance portal. The remainder passes down the tunnel behind a pressure wave front. The pressure wave
propagates with the speed of sound as a compression wave (+) along the tunnel. At the opposite portal the pressure wave is reflected and changes from a
compression wave into an expansion wave (-) propagating back into to the tunnel.
Fig 2. Civil measures to improve comfort
Fig 2. Civil measures to improve comfort
Fig 3. Pressure relief via large free cross-sectional area and pressure relief shafts
Fig 3. Pressure relief via large free cross-sectional area and pressure relief shafts
As the tail of the train enters the tunnel, a sudden pressure drop occurs behind the train. This second pressure wave propagates with the speed of sound
as a decompression wave (-) along the tunnel. At the same time the resistance, or aerodynamic drag, that a moving vehicle experiences leads to a

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