THE DISTANCE OF CROSS PASSAGES IN TWIN BORE RAILWAY TUNNELS

Dr. Rudolf Bopp, GRUNER LTD, Basle, Switzerland To be published at the th 4 International Conference on Safety in Road and Railway Tunnels, 2-6 April 2001, Madrid, Spain

ABSTRACT Many road tunnels and some of the long railway tunnels are made of two parallel tubes. These tubes normally are connected with cross passages at regular intervals to allow the tunnel users to escape into the parallel tube which is kept smoke free in case of a car or coach fire. The distances of these cross passage differs from road to rail tunnels and from one country to another. The criteria which influence the distance between cross passages are given in the paper and an attempt to define the distance of cross passages in double bore railway tunnels is made. Clearly further work needs to be done in the future.

1 INTRODUCTION From the point of view of tunnel safety twin tube systems with two separate tunnels have clear advantages compared to single tube tunnels. Accidents such as frontal collisions are excluded. In the case of a fire or a spillage of toxic gases the second tube can be used as a ‘save haven’ for the people escaping from a train. To allow the tunnel users to escape in the second, non affected tunnel tube, and to provide a smoke free access route for the emergency services, cross passages have to be provided at regular distances. In most cases the safety level is increased if the distance between two cross passages (or generally speaking between to escape routes) is reduced. However, the costs for the construction and the technical equipment grow more or less linearly with the number of cross passages. On the other hand, the extra benefit of additional escape routes decreases with an increasing number of escape routes and the money would be better invested in other safety measures leading to a higher overall safety level. The distance between two cross passages has therefore to be optimised. This is not an easy task as the impact on the safety level is difficult to quantify and the costs of cross passages differ significantly from one project to another. Risk analysis could help to find the ‘correct’ distance. However, the method is rather involving and the results are often not transparent. Therefore a simpler instrument is needed. In the first part of the paper the cross-passage distances of modern railway tunnels are summarised and an overview of existing guidelines for railway, road and subway tunnels is given. Then the relevant criteria for the definition of the distance between cross passages and the influence of a mechanical ventilation system are discussed. A simple table is proposed which allows the designer to choose the distance between two cross passages depending on the ‘risk level’ of a tunnel. Finally this table is applied to selected railway tunnels.

long. For long tunnels (> 5 km) however. Nowadays the distance of cross passages is dictated mainly by safety aspects. is a twin bore system with cross passages at a typical distance of 500 m. It is a remarkable fact that the tunnel. Country Germany Publication EBA [1] Year 1997 Distance 1000 m Remarks for tunnels longer than 1 km Table 2: Recommended distances in railway tunnels 2 . However. Tunnel Simplon Channel Tunnel Great Belt Vereina Firenzuola Gotthard Base Tunnel Length 20 km 50 km 8 km 19 km 14 km 57 km Country CH GB-F DK CH I CH Year 1906 1994 1997 1999 2006 2013 Distance 500 m 375 m 250 m 325 m Remarks cross passages are irregularly spaced rd 3 tube (emergency tunnel). whereas the Great Belt Tunnel has a comparatively short of only 250 m distance between two cross passages. The Vereina Tunnel or the Firenzuola Tunnel are examples of single bore tunnels with very long escape routes (half of the tunnel length). the main reason for this clear-sighted decision was not safety. built at the beginning of the last century. the situation is less clear. The Simplon Tunnel is by far the oldest of these tunnels. but the need for an efficient tunnel ventilation system during the construction of the tunnel. The only guideline known to the author which recommends explicitly a distance between two cross passages for railway tunnels is the German EBA-Guideline [1]. ventilation longitudinal ventilation single bore tunnel narrow gauge single bore tunnel 2 rescue stations 1 rescue station 1 service and emergency station Lötschberg Base Tunnel Mont d’Ambin 35 km 52 km CH F-I 2007 20?? 333 m 400 m Table 1: Existing and projected long railway tunnels The variation of the cross passage distance in very long tunnels (> 25 km) is quite small (between 325 m and 400 m).2 EXISTING TUNNELS AND GUIDELINIES Table 1 gives an overview over the main characteristics of a few railway tunnels.

The same distance can be found in a draft of the Austrian guidelines.this number is considerably smaller (30 persons / 100 m). This part of the tunnel can be kept smoke free by a longitudinal ventilation system.281 / 9. Passengers on both sides of the fire: In a twin bore road tunnel with unidirectional traffic in most cases the passengers are located on one side of the fire only. indicate that despite of the lower risk of railway tunnels the distance between two cross passages should not be much longer than in a road tunnel: Ø Quality of escape routes: The escape conditions in a road tunnel are usually better than in railway tunnels (broader and better illuminated escape routes). The following reasons however. In a road tunnel . For road tunnels some countries have defined the maximum distance between cross passages in national guidelines (table 3). Ø Ø These reasons may explain the relatively short distances between cross passages which can be found in the American standard for subway systems. Country USA Germany Publication NFPA 130 [5] BOStrab [6] Year 2000 1987 Distance 244 m 600 m Remarks Table 4: Recommended distances between escape routes in subway tunnels from selected national guidelines 3 . the density of people in a road tunnel is normally significantly lower than in a railway tunnel.282 [2] RABT [3] Tunnel Task Force [4] Year 1989 1984 2000 Distance 500 m 350 m 300 m Remarks up to 1000 m are allowed the distance will be reduced to 300 m in the new RABT edition Table 3: Recommended distances in road tunnels from selected national guidelines Train traffic is generally safer than road traffic. In double-decker trains the occupation may rise up to 350 passengers per 100 m. Table 4 shows an overview of existing guidelines for subway systems. These factors will influence the escape time (which is the really relevant parameter) in a positive way. Density of people: The typical capacity of a fully occupied train is about 250 passengers per 100 m train length. Even if there are two traffic lanes. Country Austria Germany Switzerland Publication RVS 9.assuming 15 cars per 100 m of jammed traffic with typically 2 passengers per car . It may therefore be argued that the escape distance in a railway tunnel can be longer than in a road tunnel.

if the distance between two cross passages is not bigger than the typical train length. the risks associated with a tunnel fire may be much higher than in a tunnel where only passenger transport is allowed or the transportation of goods is restricted. Tunnel ventilation: The presence of a highly effective tunnel ventilation system may influence the distance between cross passages. As a consequence. must continue their journey to keep the access for an evacuation and/or a rescue train free. In tunnels with a very high traffic level. If smoke spread can be limited by a mechanical ventilation system. As the size of the cross passages is not big enough to serve as a safe place for all passengers of a train. no diesel hauled trains. Depending on the distance between the two tubes and the geological conditions of the ground the construction of cross passages may have different consequences for the overall costs. leading to longer escape times. Traffic control system: If a traffic control system is installed. etc. normally the cars are jammed only on one side of the accident. Traffic type: If mixed traffic is allowed (passenger trains and transport of goods) and there is no restriction in the transportation of dangerous goods. the fire can be anywhere on the train. Construction and maintenance costs: Each safety measure has to be cost effective in the sense that if an acceptable safety level is reached. is an exception in a rail or a subway tunnel. 4 . may therefore be acceptable. Ø Ø Ø Ø Ø Ø Ø Ø Ø Ø Ø Other criteria may be added to this list and the relevant criteria may change from one project to another. Only in tunnels with a high probability of traffic jams inside the tunnel people may be expected on both sides of the fire [7]. the situation in which all passengers are upstream of the fire. grows with increasing traffic density. longer escape routes may be acceptable (see chapter 4).3 CRITERIA For the determination of the distance between cross passages the following criteria are relevant: Ø Traffic density: The probability of an accident or tunnel fire is proportional to the number of vehicles travelling through the tunnel. thus reducing the number of people which are potentially endangered. longer distances between two cross passages. more escape routes may therefore be necessary than in tunnels with a very low traffic density. the vehicles approaching the tunnel may be stopped from entering the tunnel. Traffic in parallel tube: Unless train traffic has been stopped. A considerable time may be needed to stop the traffic in the opposite tube as the trains which are about to enter the tunnel or which are already inside the tunnel. the second tube can not be considered as a safe place for the passengers. independently where the train stops. over-riding of emergency brakes. Lighting: Safety equipment as a powerful emergency lighting may influence the distance between cross passages as the escape speed it greatly influenced by the visibility.g. It may therefore be necessary that people escaping from a train can access the other tube only with some delay. Rolling stock: Modern rolling stock with defined safety specifications (emergency running characteristics. there may be an almost smoke free escape route inside the train if the ventilation of the coaches has been turned off in time. In a railway tunnel however. reduced fire load. Furthermore the probability that several trains are in the tunnel simultaneously. Escape route inside a train: Even if there is dense smoke around a stalled train.) reduce the probability of a fire inside the tunnel. Probability of people on both sides of a fire: If a fire occurs in a road tunnel with unidirectional traffic. Train length: It may be an advantage. number of persons per 100 m tunnel length) may demand more cross passages (or larger escape routes) to prevent that the escaping people are ‘jammed’ in front of the cross passages. Density of people: A high density of people (e. the money spent for a additional safety measures must be limited by the ALARP principle (As Low As Reasonably Practicable). In this case at least one cross passage is in the vicinity of a stalled train.

depends on the following parameters: Ø Ø Ø Ø the distance between to cross passages and the length of the train. In the following the effect of a longitudinal ventilation in a railway tunnel on the average cumulative escape distance inside the smoke is illustrated. the tunnel users can escape through the smoke free part of the tunnel. 5 . thus keeping the tunnel free of smoke in the upstream region of the fire. there is no positive effect of a mechanical ventilation. to operate such a system correctly. The total cumulative escape distance D. As the cars are normally jammed upstream of the fire. As expected in this case the length of the escape distance inside the smoke is even lower (less than 20% of the distance without any ventilation). During normal operation an airflow in the travel direction is induced by the piston effect of the trains. table 5). The total number of passengers in the train (ntot) is set to 800 in both cases. at least in the first minutes of an accident. [9]. The cumulative escape distance is reduced on average by more than 50% (cf. 1 The assumption that everyone moves away from the fire may be wrong in reality. Longitudinal ventilation: It is supposed that the smoke is blown in the direction of travel independently of the location of the fire on the train. on average one half of the train is in the smoke free part of the tunnel. defined as D = ∑ ni × l i i with ni the number of passengers which have to walk a distance li in the smoke until they reach the next cross passage. In some modern double bore railway tunnels longitudinal ventilation systems are installed despite the fact that in a railway tunnel passengers are normally on both side of the fire. In road tunnels different ventilation systems are used [8]. In the calculation the hypothesis is used that nobody does pass the fire – the passengers which are in the first part of the train escape in the travel direction and the passengers which are in the back of the train escape backwards. in the worst case of a fire at the rear end of the train and an airflow in the direction of travel. In Figure 2 the situation is shown for a train length of 400 m. the position of the train head relative to the next cross passage. the location of the fire on the train (front. However. Controlled longitudinal ventilation: In this case the smoke is blown in the forward direction. Ø The results of these simple calculations show that ventilation does reduce the average escape distance inside the smoke. However. the distribution of the passengers along the train. if the fire is in the front part of the train and backwards. All passengers are thus inside the smoke and the cumulative escape distance is maximal. the information of the location of the fire on the train must be available. In the case that a trains stops in the tunnel due to a fire. if the fire is in the rear part of the train. Assuming an uniform probability of the location of the fire on the train. Depending on the location of the head of the stalled train the total cumulative escape distance D is shown for three cases: Ø Ø Without mechanical ventilation: It is assumed that in this case the smoke spreads on both sides of the fire. In unidirectional traffic tunnels longitudinal ventilation is common practice. middle or rear of the train). However this would need adequate instructions of the passengers. In the case of fire the smoke is driven in the direction of travel with an airspeed high enough to prevent backlayering (the so called critical velocity).4 THE ROLE OF TUNNEL VENTILATION Tunnel ventilation is generally accepted to be one of the key factors for tunnel safety. The longitudinal ventilation is normally designed to maintain this airflow above the critical velocity. D is calculated using a simple model assuming a uniform distribution of the passengers over the length of 1 the train. this airflow prevents smoke spreading backwards. especially when the fire is outside the coach so that access past the fire may still be possible inside the train. In the example shown in Figure 1 a train length of 200 m and a distance between two cross passages of ∆cp = 500 m is chosen. which is not always the case.

200 175 Cumulative escape distance [km] 150 125 100 ∆cp = 500 m Ltrain = 200 m ntot = 800 75 50 25 0 0 100 200 300 400 500 Position of the head of the train [m] no ventilation with ventilation controlled direction Figure 1: Effect of tunnel ventilation on the cumulative escape distance for a train length of 200 m 200 175 Cumulative escape distance [km] 150 125 100 ∆cp = 500 m Ltrain = 400 m ntot = 800 75 50 25 0 0 100 200 300 400 500 Position of the head of the train [m] no ventilation with ventilation controlled direction Figure 2: Effect of tunnel ventilation on the cumulative escape distance for a train length of 400 m 6 .

the maximum distance between two rescue stations should be used for the effective tunnel length. high and very high risk 5.4 % 400 m 100 % 49.3 % 18. The risk is classified in four categories – low. the length of the two tunnels should be added to get the effective tunnel length. depending on the risk level of the tunnel. in which the length and the effective length do not coincide: Ø Ø In tunnels which are split in several sections by intermediate emergency rescue stations [10]. 7 . medium.Train Length 200 m No Ventilation 100 % Longitudinal ventilation 48. If two or more tunnels follow each other and the separation of these tunnels becomes smaller than one train length.1 Definition of the effective tunnel length The effective length of the tunnel is normally the distance from the entry to the exit portal.4 % Table 5: Effect of a mechanical ventilation system on the average cumulative escape distance for a cross passage distance of 500 m and 800 passengers/train 5 DECISION TABLE For the selection of the distance between cross passages a simple table is proposed (table 6). There are however cases.8% Controlled ventilation 15.

5. With increasing tunnel length and traffic volume the risk increases steadily. it is proposed to reduce the risk level by one class if a longitudinal ventilation is installed in the tunnel. 1000 m 500 m 350 m 250 m Road Tunnels [3. Clearly more work has to be done to define these distances in such a way that a similar risk level is achieved in all tunnels. Mixed traffic (passenger and goods trains) is assumed. The proposed risk classes for double bore railway tunnels is shown in Figure 3. For a railway tunnel it is proposed to classify the risk according to the (effective) length of the tunnel and the number of trains which use the tunnel per day. To account for the fact that a mechanical ventilation does significantly reduce the cumulative escape distance inside smoke. 400 360 320 very high risk number of trains / day 280 240 200 160 120 80 40 0 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 regularly more than 1 train inside the same tube high risk medium risk low risk effective length of the tunnel [km] Gotthard Base Tunnel Mont d'Ambin Great Belt Figure 3: Proposed risk categories for twin tube railway tunnels – if a mechanical ventilation is installed the risk class can be reduced by one step A possible set of distances for the cross passages (which reflects the opinion of the author based on existing guidelines) are shown in the following table.2 Definition of the risk class For road tunnels risk classes have been defined in different countries [11. 12]. Proposed distance Low risk Medium risk High risk Very high risk max. 4] NFPA 130 Standard [5] Basis EBA Guideline [1] Table 6: Proposed distance between two cross passages in double bore railway tunnels 8 . The number of trains per day in both directions and the probability that more than one train is inside the same tube is used to delimit the risk zones (in a somewhat arbitrary manner).

it has to be mentioned that the tunnel is used by a relatively high proportion of diesel trains. Ø Ø 9 . The cross passage distance of 325 m lies above the proposed value of 250 m for such a tunnel. important parameters as the percentage of passenger trains or the costs of additional cross passages have not been taken into account. According to table 6 the distance of cross passages should be 350 m compared to 375 m of the existing tunnel. Ø Ø Ø 7 CONCLUSIONS Ø A simple decision table to define the distance between two cross passages is proposed for double bore railway tunnels depending on the risk classification of the tunnel. The risk classes and the distance between cross passages should be selected in a manner that the risk level for all tunnel categories becomes comparable. However. However. A longitudinal ventilation system does significantly reduce the average cumulative escape distance in the smoke. The use of quantitative risk analysis may help to refine the proposed risk classes. Gotthard Base Tunnel: Even with the two emergency rescue stations the Gotthard Base Tunnel is in the category of a ‘very high risk’. without increasing the risks associated with a train fire in the tunnel. The distance of 350 m from table 6 is slightly lower than 400 m which are proposed for the project.6 APPLICATION OF THE TABLE TO EXISTING TUNNELS In the following the provisional decision table shown in chapter 5 is applied for some selected tunnels: Ø Channel Tunnel: With a length of over 50 km the Channel Tunnel is a tunnel in the class of a ‘very high risk’ (Figure 3). The distance of cross passages can thus be increased if a mechanical ventilation is installed in the tunnel. Great Belt: Due to the lower daily traffic and the installed longitudinal ventilation the Great Belt Tunnel is classified as a ‘medium risk’ tunnel. the risk class would be reduced to high risk and consequently the selected distance of cross passages would be below the value proposed in table 6. Mont d’Ambin: As a longitudinal ventilation system is foreseen the tunnel is classified as a tunnel with high risk. As a longitudinal ventilation system is installed the risk is reduced by one class to ‘high risk’. The proposed values for the distance of cross passages are based on existing guidelines. If the design is based on the proposed table the choice of a relatively short distance (250 m) between cross passages and the installation of a mechanical ventilation would not be mandatory. In the proposed decision table. if the existing ventilation system for the emergency rescue stations is used for a longitudinal ventilation of the tunnel. Further work is needed to define the risk levels.

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