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Flexible interlocking solution with HIMA technology safeguards shunting junction in French-speaking Switzerland

BÄR Bahnsicherung deploys an innovative CENELEC SIL4 interlocking system based on Commercial off-the-Shelf (COTS) safety controllers from HIMA on a rail line in the Canton of Jura.

On the Le Noirmont – La Chaux-de-Fonds rail line in the French-speaking region of Switzerland, BÄR Bahnsicherung has for the first time deployed the new Eurolocking electronic interlocking based on HIMA safety controllers. The benefits of the high integration capability, performance and compact design of the CENELEC SIL4 compliant interlocking are proven in practice at the Bellevue station of the Swiss transportation company Les Chemins de fer du Jura.

Bellevue is a junction station with two sidings that have a large volume of shunting traffic and are therefore implemented with secured shunting routes. Integrating the interlocking into the existing control system and interfacing to the nearby interlockings already in place, which were implemented with the TMN 840/841 block interface widely used in Switzerland, were significant challenges during project execution.

Easy integration of all elements


A basic component of the Eurolocking solution is the use of SIL4 certified HIMax safety PLCs as main computers. Using a standardized COTS safety system enables easy integration of diverse components. For example, BÄR was able to smoothly integrate the system bus and the interfaces with the standardized HIMA systems in cooperation with Frauscher Systemtechnik. That formed the basis for uniform connection of all field components. Another advantage of easy integration is that BÄR was able to develop a compact interlocking with significant space savings.
 
Availability is especially important with interlockings. As a plug-and-play system with hot-swap functionality, the HIMax controller enables fast component replacement and system modifications during ongoing operation. The subsystems utilize the smaller HIMatrix controllers, which also fulfill extremely high safety requirements but are designed for a smaller number of I/O ports. These compact, high-performance devices are particularly suitable for use in distributed time-critical applications.

The result


System installation at the Bellevue station was completed in June 2018, with trial operation starting on September 14. Thanks to cooperation with HIMA, BÄR was able to draw on a network that provided a solid basis for new product development. Interlockings based on the same platform have already been implemented by Movares for the Dutch National Railways and for the public transport operator NÖVOG in Austria.

Using standard control technology from HIMA enabled development of an interlocking that fulfills applicable industry standards (CENELEC), offers low life cycle costs and optimal integration capability as a stand-alone solution, and is suitable for line applications. The standardized communications and programming of the HIMatrix simplify handling and integration of the controllers into an existing system. Modularity and scalability enable optimal adaptation to the needs of the application and make the interlocking solution future-proof.

“Easy integration of components from different manufacturers was especially important for us in the development of the Eurolocking electronic interlocking. Using a HIMA safety controller as an open safety system fulfilled all of our expectations in that regard,” says Beat Fehr, Managing Partner and Head of Sales at BÄR Bahnsicherung. “Thanks to the COTS solution from HIMA, we were able to develop a highly flexible, scalable and cost-effective product.”

The new Eurolocking electronic interlocking can be flexibly adapted to the individual needs of every operator and easily integrated into existing infrastructure. Image © BÄR Bahnsicherung AG
The new Eurolocking electronic interlocking is CENELEC SIL4 compliant, and the benefits of its high integration capability, performance and compact design are proven in practice at the Bellevue station of the Swiss transportation company Les Chemins de fer du Jura. Image © BÄR Bahnsicherung AG
The central computer of the Eurolocking system is a HIMax safety controller, which features easy scalability and high performance. Image © BÄR Bahnsicherung AG

About BÄR Bahnsicherung


BÄR Bahnsicherung develops, designs, engineers, installs and tests railway safety systems for the Swiss railway market, and has been doing so for 30 years. Until recently the main focus of the Swiss company's services was on conventional relay interlockings. To meet growing customer requirements, BÄR wanted to develop a high-performance electronic interlocking that would not only fulfill the relevant safety requirements with higher flexibility and scalability, but also offer customers advantages in terms of procurement and operating costs. The result is the new Eurolocking electronic interlocking based on HIMA safety controllers, which is CENELEC SIL4 compliant, can be flexibly adapted to the individual needs of every operator, and can easily be integrated into existing infrastructure.

The technical details: a standardized safety solution


The central computer of the Eurolocking system is a HIMax safety controller, which features easy scalability and high performance. The standard operating system and open interfaces allow it to be built as a stand-alone controller, distributed or centralized, according to need. The full spectrum of interlockings and applications – from locally operated switches to control with remote I/O modules near the field components or central control with redundant architecture – can thus be flexibly implemented and scaled.

For distributed connections or functions that are defined as subsystems and should not be allocated to the main computer, such as automatic signal operation or connection of an existing crossing, BÄR uses HIMatrix controllers. They are connected over the internal SafeEthernet system bus. Both COTS systems are vibration and shock resistant and are certified by TÜV Süd according to the CENELEC standards EN 50126, EN 50128 and EN 50129 for use in the railway industry up to the highest safety integrity level (SIL4).

The benefits


COTS solutions enhance safety and reduce life cycle costs

The HIMA controllers simplify handling and integration into existing systems. Furthermore, their modularity and scalability make the interlocking solution future-proof. At the same time, the open, modular COTS components help reduce life cycle costs. For example, the number of parallel interfaces was minimized by integration of the field components using serial interfaces with a CENELEC SIL4 certified bus.

  • Top-notch safety: The safety controllers are certified according to CENELEC SIL4.
  • Space savings: Easy integration of the HIMA controllers allowed BÄR to develop a compact, space-saving interlocking.
  • Flexibility: The Eurolocking interlocking system based on the scalable, open HIMA systems can be optimally adapted to the individual needs of railway operators. Third-party systems can easily be integrated.
  • Future-proof: The modern safety controllers are significantly easier to install, and they can be kept technologically current by updates more easily than conventional relays.
  • Availability: The hot-swap functionality of the HIMax enables fast component replacement and system modifications during ongoing operation, leading to higher system availability and lower operating costs.
  • Communications: Connection of field components over serial interfaces reduces engineering and installation effort.

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