15 / 11 / 2013
New trains were needed for the London Heathrow Express for the 2012 Olympic Games. The first fully refurbished train entered commercial service in early August 2012 fitted with HUBER+SUHNER’s RADOX fiber optic assemblies. Meanwhile, 12 of the 14 trains have been equipped with the new systems, which are proving superior in practice.
Since 1998, the Heathrow Express has connected London Heathrow Airport with Paddington Station in the city center. The fleet includes nine trains with four cars and five trains with five cars. Taking only 15 minutes to cover about 40 kilometers, the connection is extremely fast, which explains the heavy use the services sees. Every day, around 16,000 passengers are transported, totaling more than 60 million since commissioning the service. After 14 years, a major overhaul was necessary in view of the 2012 Olympic Games.
Fiber optic backbone for information systems
As part of this overhaul, the idea was to equip the Heathrow Express trains with a fiber optic backbone for various passenger and video information systems as well as the information unit in the driver's cabin.
FO assemblies are chosen in preference to conventional copper systems for this type of application as fiber is recognised to offer the highest bandwidth transmission capability. In addition, a fiber optic system is dielectric and therefore immune to electromagnetic interference (EMI).
The rail planning company that designed the backbone wanted fiber optic assemblies including inter-vehicle jumpers, which met the demanding vibration, moisture ingress and other environmental requirements for rolling-stock. They also wanted the fiber optic backbone to be supplied as complete fully tested assemblies that could be installed quickly with minimum difficulty.
A customized solution
HUBER+SUHNER designed the assemblies incorporating their Q-ODC® push-pull connector and RADOX fiber optic cables which fulfilled all of the customer's requirements. The Q-ODC connector for rail applications was a development of HUBER+SUHNER’s screw-fit ODC connector previously used for harsh outdoor applications, including fiber-to-the-antenna (FTTA). The Q-ODC is compact, has high mechanical and thermal resistance, is corrosion resistant, has a vibration safe / shock resistant locking mechanism (according to IEC 61373) and conforms with the IP 67 protection class. This makes it the ideal connectivity solution for demanding use in rail vehicles.
In addition to the fiber optic assemblies, HUBER+SUHNER also supplied new CAT 5 data cables, power cables and signal cables, which were installed by Railcare, the lead company in the project.
To ensure a successful installation, Railcare employees and managers were trained by HUBER+SUHNER in the handling, cleaning, installation and testing of the fiber optic assemblies. The feedback from Railcare on the installation of the new assemblies in the rail vehicles was also very positive: "It was no more difficult than running a twisted-pair cable."
Proven in use
Since time was at a premium, Railcare defined a strict delivery schedule, coordinated with the start of the Olympic Games. HUBER+SUHNER delivered the first assemblies for the test installation in January 2012. The first fully refurbished train entered commercial service in early August 2012. Since then, twelve trains have already returned to full operation, while two others are still being completed. The fiber optic assemblies in the Heathrow Express have proved their value: according to the customer, the overall performance of the installed systems is excellent. HUBER+SUHNER has impressed both the consulting firm and Railcare with its close cooperation in this high profile and prestigious project.
Railcare was formed in February 2007 and operates sites in both Springburn and Wolverton. With considerable expertise in Vehicle and Component overhaul, Incident Repair and Spares and Logistics, Railcare offers customers a total Rolling Stock solution.