Software and safety Schinkel railway bridge

The new Schinkel railway bridge is a major renovation project for the railway infrastructure in Amsterdam. The 128-ton bridge can be opened and closed in 60 seconds, and as such facilitates more efficient traffic flows. Obviously, safety has the highest priority and technology must guarantee this. Anne van der Heiden from Strypes was engaged as a specialist in this project.

Safety circuits

The Schinkel bridge is, for example, controlled by a PLC from Siemens. The level of difficulty for the installation was mainly determined by the safety standards: the operation of all components in the system must be failsafe. Anne explains: ‘A train driver has complete trust in his signals. A mechanical control device indicates when the bridge is closed and the rails across the bridge are exactly aligned. This must be fail-safe. A false indication may never be given anywhere and mutual checks must therefore be constantly performed.’ Anne’s assignment initially consisted of developing the software, however this was quickly expanded to include, for example, the design of the safety circuits and failure rate calculations for these circuits.

Hydraulics

Focusing on safety also means that ProRail makes conservative choices regarding the technology. This meant the options were limited and this presented additional challenges. Another factor was the drive system. Anne: ‘The bridge is operated hydraulically. It is important to anticipate the needs outside your own technical discipline in order to achieve the best marriage between PLC control and the hydraulic installation. Common sense and optimal communication with third parties are indispensable in order to achieve success’.

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