In recent decades, major accidents have happened in road and rail tunnels throughout Europe. These resulted in loss of life, damage to structures, growing social awareness of safety, and they have stimulated the agencies responsible to review safety in tunnels and revise their approach. Today, safety has become the key objective in the design of tunnels.
The improvement of the safety in tunnels involves a whole series of sub-systems including: lighting systems, emergency telephony and announcement systems, video surveillance, SCADA systems, fire water systems, access control, ventilation control systems, safety lights, power supply systems, and fire detection systems. The signals from all these systems are integrated and transmitted via a network infrastructure that is at the heart of the tunnel’s safety – and must guarantee the highest degree of reliability.
Operators need to simplify activation processes and reduce maintenance costs, by decreasing the number of operations in the field and increased efficiency. This drives the need for totally reliable high-tech and high quality products based on recognized international standards.
Each element of risk is calculated and to reduce the possibility of out of service in the tunnels there is a growing use of redundancy protocols, standardized in IEC 62439, that manage ring networks or recovery times equal to zero. The use of a common industrial standard reduces the risks related to proprietary protocols, exclusively connected to a single company.