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EFACEC: How Portugal's largest electrical company protects rail traffic

With AEGIS and XSAFE, EFACEC develops flexible safety solutions for light rail traffic based on SIL 4-certified HIMatrix and HIMax controllers.

 

Safely to the airport

The Portuguese company EFACEC was looking for a cost-efficient and sustainable safety technology for development of its new rail transport safety solutions. Ultimately, the company chose the commercial-off-the-shelf safety solutions (COTS) HIMatrix and HIMax from HIMA. In addition to the fact that these safety controllers satisfy the most rigorous rail standards, and thanks to CENELEC SIL 4 approval they are in compliance with a high safety standard, other factors that were crucial for this decision were the modular design and optimal scalability of the HIMA safety controllers.

With the help of HIMatrix and HIMax, EFACEC was able to implement its modular, flexible AEGIS signaling system and the XSafe level crossing controller. Both systems are based on the same hardware and a certified software production, verification, and validation process. The AEGIS system was implemented for the first time on the 1.5 km, double-track airport line of the Oporto Metro in Porto, Portugal.

 

Modular and scalable

The AEGIS system is a new modular concept for signaling systems based on SIL 4 (safety) certified industrial hardware and COTS software. The heart of the system is a locking solution for the rail traffic controller. It is based on the HIMA safety PLC platform and software developed by EFACEC using standard languages in accordance with IEC 61131 and certified function blocks to ensure SIL4 certification; the solution has been validated through TÜV-SÜD.

XSafe is the latest version of the automatic level crossing system from EFACEC; likewise it is based on COTS technology. The powerful XSafe controller is based on the SIL4-certified HIMatrix series. Its distributed structure with IP-based communication for connection of the individual modules has proven to be outstanding for this type of application, particularly in terms of connectivity to other rail systems. This enables significant cost reductions, among other things where the cabling is concerned. Thanks to the modularity and flexibility of the HIMatrix platform, XSafe offers a solution that is versatile in its configuration and suitable for virtually any type of level crossing.

"HIMatrix and HIMax satisfy the most rigorous railway standards and safety standards. In addition, thanks to open interfaces and a standard operating system they offer optimum scalability. The modular COTS controllers address all requirements of our customers relative to investment costs and operating costs over the entire service life and beyond."
Luis Roboredo, Chief Technical Officer of Transportation Business Unit at EFACEC

 

The technical details

The high availability of the HIMA safety technology, is based on the normative framework of the IEC 61508 standard on one the hand, and is in compliance with the CENELEC railway standards EN 50126/129/128/159 on the other. SIL4-certification in accordance with CENELEC was a key element for the development of the AEGIS signaling system and the XSafe level crossing controller for light rail traffic applications.

 

COTS solutions ensure high safety and availability

Safety is of central importance in the rail sector. Thanks to the SIL4-certified COTS-solutions from HIMA, EFACEC was able to implement its AEGIS and XSafe safety solutions cost-effectively, easily, and quickly. In the first AEGIS project the HIMax and HIMatrix COTS safety controllers guarantee reliable and uninterruptible operation of the airport line in Porto.

  • Cost advantage: Unlike proprietary technology, the COTS controllers are manufactured in large quantities as standard components. Thus AEGIS and XSafe are particularly cost-effective systems.
  • Scalability: Thanks to the modular structure and open programming of the controllers AEGIS and XSafe can be flexibly adapted to the requirements.
  • Easy integration: Standard programming languages and open communication interfaces enable easy system integration.
  • Maximum safety: Thanks to the SIL 4-certified controllers AEGIS and XSafe satisfy the highest standards for rail transport in terms of availability and safety.
The AEGIS system is an all-new concept for signalling systems based on SIL 4 certified industrial hardware and off-the-shelf software. All photos: © EFACEC / Illustrations: © HIMA
COTS hardware protects a double-track airport line.
Architecture of the AEGIS system
Architecture of the XSafe controller.

Background: About EFACEC

The AEGIS system from EFACEC, a Portuguese company active in the areas of energy supply and transport, controls train movements on the 1.5 km two-track airport line of the Oporto Metro in Porto through monitoring and control of:

  • 11 LED signals
  • 21 axle counter track sections
  • 3 point machines
  • 2 traffic light systems


The AEGIS system has now been in use for three years to the full satisfaction of customers. Thus, with its innovative features it fulfills all expectations associated with the development of the system. Now the system will also be installed for other EFACEC customers.

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