After more than a 50-year break: The Tram is running again – with Mobility & HIMA!

Compact commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) solutions make the signaling technology of the Luxembourg city tram fit for the future.

Between 1875 and 1964, trams operated in the capital of the small country of Luxembourg, providing passengers with transportation. Then they were shut down. Since last year, the Tram is back. On 10 December 2017 – much faster than planned – operator Luxtram inaugurated the first leg. On a 3.5 km stretch between Luxexpo and Pont Rouge, eight stops were put into operation, including two transfer platforms. As part of a modernization effort, the signal systems along the route were renewed by Mobility and were equipped with powerful safety controls from HIMA. The result: Luxtram was able to significantly increase train frequency and thus the capacity of the Tram.

Modern safety technology

Experts estimate that the number of professional commuters in Luxembourg will double by 2030. The reactivation of the tram lines is a measure intended to cope with this high volume. In order for the Tram to be able to resume operations, Luxtram awarded the French rail specialist Mobility, with the target to deploy signalling system in accordance with highest safety requirements: SIL4. Instead of a system with conventional N.S1 relays, plans called for a space-saving solution with programmable logic controllers (PLCs), Mobility took the opportunity to deploy his new concept based on HIMA Safety PLC. At the same time, the plan was to also significantly increase the frequency of the trams in order to increase the number of transported passengers and to ensure the Tram‘s longevity for the future.

The experts from Mobility worked closely together with the French HIMA branch on the design of the safety technology. The goal was to develop a signaling solution that complies with the SIL4 safety level according to CENELEC and install it directly on the tracks. The solution: modern COTS safety controllers from HIMA.

Space savings

Luxtram and Mobility’s decision is in line with the trend: more and more system integrators and railway operators worldwide rely on standardized, open safety systems to meet the requirements of urban transport with the increasing volume of passengers, increasing connectivity, limited installation space and digitalization.

By using the HIMA technology, Luxtram was able to save substantial space in the track area: the new control cabinets were able to be optimally integrated into the architecture of the stops and transfer platforms. At the LuxExpo stop, the installation of HIMA safety controller solution in compact control cabinet directly on the track saved the costs and issues caused by building of an entire technical room measuring 3 x 7 meters when using old fashion technology. Large technical rooms like those used in traditional relay solutions are not only a major challenge for planners due to the lack of space in urban trams: they are also an additional cost factor when they e.g. need to be laid underground near the tracks in a densely built-up area. "The Luxtram project is the first time we used HIMA safety controllers, because they comply with CENELEC SIL4 and have already proven themselves in numerous safety-critical applications," explains Stephane BERTHET, Business Unit Manager Light Rail Signalling at Mobility. "Thanks to the good cooperation with HIMA's safety specialists, we were able to complete the project faster than planned and implement a signaling system that‘s future-proof and offers easy handling."

The technical details

PLC instead of relay

  • Three CENELEC SIL4 certified safety controllers type HIMatrix
  • Long-term availability of at least 20 years in terms of spare parts and retrofit
  • The entire tram route can be monitored centrally
  • The Luxtram project was the first tram project with HIMatrix controllers
  • More than 50 axle counters and 150 induction loops were installed on the leg

The tram at its inauguration on December 10, 2017. The Tram is once again travelling through the Luxembourg capital. All photos: © Luxtram / © Mobility

The route length is slated to be expanded to 16 km by 2021, with 24 stops and nine transfer centers.

Instead of a conventional system with relays, space-saving COTS solutions are used.

Compact control cabinets can replace oversized technical rooms and can be handily integrated into the architecture at the stops and transfer platforms.


Background: About the Tram

Preparations for the modernized tram began in 2015. The cornerstone of the new station and maintenance center Tramsschapp at Luxexpo was finally laid on September 18, 2015. The project costs totaled 565 million euros. Six tram cars with a capacity of up to 420 people currently operate on the first leg.

By 2021, the route length is slated to be expanded to 16 kilometers with 24 stops and nine transfer centers, leading to the final stops at Findel Airport and Cloche d'Or. Once completed, 32 rail vehicles will travel on the tram route.

Operator Luxtram is a public limited company that has been tasked with the design, construction and operation of the tram network in Luxembourg. Its aim is to help bring about an even broader offering of public transport options and to promote the development of sustainable mobility in Luxembourg. In doing so, the goal is to harmonize mobility with the city’s image while simultaneously making a qualitative contribution to environmental protection. Video of the opening of the leg

The benefits

COTS solutions increase safety and reduce lifecycle costs
The HIMA controls make Luxembourg's tram traffic safer as well as faster, the latter benefit thanks to their high performance, which enables the time intervals between two trains to be shortened. At the same time, the open, modular COTS components help reduce lifecycle costs.

  • Maximum safety: The safety controllers are certified according to SIL 4 CENELEC.
  • Space savings: The HIMA controllers were able to be installed in compact control cabinets directly at the tracks. As a result, space-consuming technology rooms are a thing of the past.
  • Flexibility: The deployed signaling solutions based on the scalable, open HIMA systems can be optimally adapted to Luxtram’s needs.
  • Future-proof: Compared to conventional relays, the modern safety controllers are significantly easier to install, and updates ensure they are kept in sync with the latest technology.
  • Time savings: The operator completed the project six months ahead of schedule during its planned two-year timeframe.
  • Increased capacity: Thanks to increased computing power, Luxtram was able to significantly increase the operating frequency of the Tram. According to the Luxembourg Ministry of Sustainable Development and Infrastructure, the average number of tram passengers on weekdays during the first two months of operation was some 17,000 – more than twice as many as originally forecast (8,400).


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