Detmold, 08 August 2018. The first underground railway network in the world was constructed in London more than 150 years ago.Today London Underground operates the largest route network in Europe of 402 kilometres. Every day around 4.8 million people take the "tube" in an extensive route network located in tunnels below London's busy streets. Passenger volume is increasing. To ensure problem-free and faster journeys for passengers on the Underground in future, a new train control system is being rolled out across the whole network which will facilitate shorter intervals between trains. The process starts with the "Four Lines Modernisation Project" (4LM), currently the largest rail infrastructure project in the world for the modernisation of signalling systems. It involves the installation of new train control systems for the Circle, District, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan underground lines. These lines jointly account for 40 per cent of traffic on the London Underground.
Image caption: Weidmüller special enclosures provide optimum protection for new London Underground train control system. (Copyright: Shutterstock / pisaphotography)
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Whether due to dust, vibrations or high temperatures, systems used in the tunnels of the London Underground operate under difficult conditions, of which passengers are often largely unaware. Know-how from Detmold is helping to ensure that everything runs smoothly: 3,500 enclosures manufactured by the Detmold electrical engineering company Weidmüller will help to protect the sensitive technology used in the new signalling systems in a harsh environment. The technical specifications are high, as Detmar Saalmann, Global Segment Manager Transportation at Weidmüller knows: "The damp environment in the underground tunnels and wide fluctuations in temperature necessitate customised enclosures with specially designed ventilation systems and seals." When the equipment is installed above-ground, care must also be taken to ensure that train drivers are not dazzled by sunlight reflected from the surface of the enclosures. "These challenges have been taken into account when manufacturing the special enclosures and a low-reflection etched surface has been developed", continues Saalmann.
Working conditions in the London Underground make this a difficult task for the project partners, since the modernisation work has to be carried out when the rail system is in operation. "The new equipment must also be compatible with the existing infrastructure - some of which is more than 150 years old - and must have a minimum service life of 40 years", explains Saalmann.
Passengers on the London Underground will first become aware of the results of the modernisation work at the end of 2019 when the new train control system goes live on the Circle Line. However, the 4LM project is only the first of a series of modernisation projects for the London Underground: Work will be carried out on all other lines of the transport system up to 2024. When all the work has finally been completed, passengers on the London Underground will be able to enjoy the advantages of the modernisation for many decades, and travel quickly from one location to another in London. The exceptional protection for the new signalling systems provided by technology from Detmold will have played a major role here.
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