SIGNAL+DRAHT | Issue 09/2007

International IRSE Convention in the Netherlands

September 2007 | Jacques Poré

This year, the IRSE (Institution of Railway Signal Engineers) and ist President for the year Wim Coenraad, from MOVARES, the Dutch Railway engineering consultancy, decided to host the IRSE’s International Convention in the Dutch city of Rotterdam (May 28th to June 1st), located at the centre of the country’s 4 main ongoing railway projects. The event presented an excellent and indeed challenging occasion to (re)discover signalling (and telecoms) in this small yet highly mobile country, where rail transport is so heavily used by both the population and the freight carriers. In fact, this April, ProRail has just commissioned the quadrupling of the 30 km long Amsterdam – Utrecht line, which has one of the highest densities of rail traffic in the country, at well over 500 trains per day. The second main project is the first High Speed Line in the Netherlands, the so-called “HSL-Zuid” (or “High Speed Line – South”), between Amsterdam and the Belgian border, through Rotterdam and Breda, a line about 110 km long, with the high speed sections totalling a little over 90 km. The HSLZuid will connect with the “Line 4” of Infrabel in Belgium, the High Speed Line linking Brussels with the Dutch border through Antwerp. Another “first” is of course the Betuweroute, the world’s very first new line dedicated to rail freight transport only. The 160 km long Betuweroute will link the Rotterdam port area with Germany and the Ruhr region, including the big marshalling yard in Kijfhoek, situated roughly one third of the way along the line on the Rotterdam side. The initial (partial) operation of both new lines (HSL-Zuid and Betuweroute) will come in stages from mid-2007 until the end of the year or early 2008. Last but not least, the Netherlands is also commissioning its first light rail (of the “tram-train” type) network, the socalled “Randstad-Rail”, linking various densely populated areas in The Hague – Zoetermeer – Rotterdam, and in between. All these 4 rail projects naturally involve much work in the area of signalling and railway telecommunication, with many innovations in terms of both products and systems, all of which were presented in detail to the IRSE Convention.