ITA COSUF: Focus on Tunnel Safety in Europe. International Forum satisfies high Demand on Information, Discussion and Networking
Rotterdam (NL)/Lausanne (CH), 31 March 2016. More than 50 Tunnel Safety Officers (TSO) and Tunnel Safety Experts from 14 European countries joined the 4th European Tunnel Safety Officers Forum from 9th to 10th of March 2016 in Rotterdam (The Netherlands). "This meeting was a great opportunity to support the activities, the exchange of experiences and the network of European Tunnel Safety Officers and also a chance for the dialogue in the European Union," emphasized Atilla Eordogh, representative of the European Union, the major importance of the very well-prepared event.
The two-day conference was organized by the ITA Committee on Operational Safety of Underground Facilities (COSUF) in co-operation with the World Road Association (PIARC) and the European Commission. "We connect the right people and help to learn from best practice. That´s the reason why we offer an event like that," explained Dr. Roland Leucker, Chairman of ITA COSUF, the intention of the Forum. A day before the international event the ITA COSUF Steering Board and the four Activity Groups (AG) took the chance for internal meetings and up-to-date decisions.
Current Trends and Information for Tunnel Safety Officers in Europe
The two-day event was filled with important information about the latest safety trends in Europe with the main topics on "Operating Tunnels Safely during Refurbishment" and "Commissioning and Testing of New and Refurbished Tunnels". Also the attendees took the chance to visit the existing Maas Tunnel – which is planned to be refurbished.
After short welcome addresses of the representatives of the organizing entities (Fig. 1), John Wheeler presented how a tunnel can be safely managed during refurbishment. Several experiences were shared and Frank Embert-Kreiser did it extensively with the noise prevention works under running traffic of the A1 Tunnel in Cologne-Lövenich. Especially the details of emergency plans which need to function while systems are changed and additional live monitoring on site were discussed. The second topic "Long-term tunnel operation below minimal operating requirements", presented by André Stein, was complemented with the A7 Tunnel case, explained by Georg Mayer. Discussions rose about the questions, how to deal with the missing or only partially working ventilation and about the measurements to be taken and to be changed in the different phases of the refurbishment.
Ahead of the Maas Tunnel visit in the afternoon the participants were welcomed at the "Euromast" by the city of Rotterdam, owner of the Maas Tunnel, the oldest road tunnel in the Netherlands – and a listed monument (Fig. 2). To refurbish this monument, particular safety challenges have to be faced. The visit included the control centre, the ventilation building and the original escalators (Fig. 3, 4).
Experiences with Commissioning and Testing of New and Refurbished Tunnels
During the second day of the forum it appeared that the role of the TSO in procedures for commissioning and testing becomes more and more important. This presented topic was lively discussed. Unfortunately one keynote speaker could not attend the forum, but that gave Johan Bosch the opportunity to provide insight in the Heinenoord Tunnel accident development. A very confronting video footage showed how longitudinal ventilation contributes to safety and the extent on how instructions can influence mostly irrational human behaviour. Further cases taught how different tests, inspections and exercises can be planned. The importance of software development strategy for commissioning and testing was shown and it was explained how the work of TSOs can be organised in a large tunnel network. The highly skilled presentations were held by Lukas Rakosnik, Ron van den Ende, Corinne Chiodini and last but not least Johan Bosch, Leader of COSUF Activity Group 4 (Road Tunnel Safety Officers), who gave some detailed information about the activities of this group.
Finally, as an "add-on" for the remaining attendees after the official closure, the speech of Ron van den Ende about the refurbishment of the Velser Tunnel demonstrated the benefits of BIM (Building Information Management) in combination with SE (Systems Engineering) including interface management, construction phase, operations and maintenance.
Next TSO Forum planned for 2018
After a very successful meeting, profound presentations, an interesting site visit and comprehensive opportunities for networking all participants and presenters appreciated that the preparations for the next European Tunnel Safety Officer Forum in 2018 just started with switching off the lights of the last presentation.
Platform for Road Tunnel Safety Officers in Europe
The trans-European road network is growing more and more. For this reason, the European Union decided on 29th April 2004 with the Directive 2004/54/EC to create the position of a Tunnel Safety Officer to make sure that a minimum of safety requirements for tunnels in Europe will exist. In 2005, the first Committee on Operational Safety of Underground Facilities (COSUF) of ITA (International Tunnelling and Underground Space Association) was founded with 4 Activity Groups. Group 4 – Road Tunnel Safety Officers – aims to be the platform for European Tunnel Safety Officers to exchange experiences through its biannual forum and for development of best practices.
Activity Groups of COSUF
All COSUF members are encouraged to take part in at least one Activity Group (AG). However, AG4 is reserved for Road Tunnel Safety Officers appointed according to the EU Directive 2004/54/EC and a few other reference members appointed by the AG4 leader. Only COSUF members can take part in the AG activities. Exceptions can be allowed by the COSUF Steering Board (SB), e.g. to allow the participation of experts or representatives of other organizations. AG leaders are appointed by and report to the SB in which they also take part in the activities. Activity Groups normally meet twice a year, if possible in conjunction with a COSUF event (e.g. a workshop).
The main topics of interest in Activity Group 4 are maintenance and refurbishing during operation, the role and responsibility of emergency services, degrading of tunnels and failures, minimal operation requirements and best practices on tunnel safety documentation. The scope of COSUF is safety and security in all kinds of tunnels and underground facilities in operation.
Centre of Excellence
ITA COSUF is the first committee of the ITA, the International Tunnelling and Underground Space Association, founded in 2005. It is the Centre of Excellence consisting of approx. 80 corporate member organisations and companies from 25 countries all over the world. The World Road Association PIARC is also supporting ITA COSUF. Since the very first beginning COSUF is a platform for communication on operational safety and security in underground facilities. Only the best specialists in the field of tunnelling are discussing in four different activity groups about the latest developments.
Joining ITA COSUF is very easy. It´s not needed to be an ITA member and for this reason COSUF welcomes corporate and individual members.
Figure 1: Johan Bosch, Leader of ITA COSUF Activity Group 4 (Tunnel Safety Officers) welcoming the participants from 14 European Countries
Figure 2: Overview of the Northern Portal of the Maas Tunnel (below) with Ventilation Building (white building, directly at the riverside) and the Entrance Building for pedestrians and cyclists (left side of the Ventilation Building with green roof)
Figure 3: The Maas Tunnel has four tubes: two tubes for motor traffic ...
Figure 4: ... and two tubes with escalators for cyclists and pedestrians