Improved safety in the diamond city
Antwerp – a city with exceptional brilliancy. For more than five centuries it has been considered the most important diamond centre in the world. Around 1600 diamond companies, four diamond exchanges and a diamond museum are based here. Also impressive are the magnificent buildings and cultural institutions from different eras in the Belgian port city in the Flanders region. The historic main train station "Antwerp-Centraal" is an architectural gem. It was built between 1899 and 1905 and is striking for its splendid station building, consisting of an elegant station roof made of steel and a 75 metre high dome.
Another special feature catches the visitor’s eye when coming from the railway station to the Diamant Premetro station looking for a connection by underground. There are no typical underground railway carriages here.
Instead, you sit in a tram car by which you travel through a network of several tunnels in the Antwerp underground. Hence the designation Antwerp "Premetro", based on the original intention to convert the tramway tunnel into an underground railway at a later date. But this plan was already rejected during construction in 1974.
Only the first four stations Meir, Opera, Diamant and Plantin were realised as an underground railway concept, equipped with 90 metre long platforms. Stations built later, however, had more cost-effective platform lengths of 60 metres.
The tram network is operated by the Flemish public transport company De Lijn. Of the total 13.5 km long tunnel route and 19 stops, only 11.2 kilometres and twelve stations are in operation.
Another branch was opened in September 2017 for tram traffic. Since then, tram line 10 enters what is called the Reuzenpijp just before Zegel station. From here it leaves the Premetro tunnel in the direction of Wijnegem, east of Foorplein station, which has not yet been put into service.
"Ghost station" Foorplein
Foorplein is still one of what are known as "ghost stations". Due to its location right next to the former railway station Borgerhout on the eastern track, it could be suitable in the future as a transfer station. What is now called a ghost station could become an important connection point in the future.
But to guarantee maximum availability of the railway system here and thus to ensure safe travel for thousands of commuters, reliable signal technoloigy has top priority. In the event of evacuation, for example, it is very important that emergency systems for lighting and control systems function properly.
Critical and very sensitive electrical systems like these, therefore, need voltage independent of disturbances in the public network. This can only be assured by robust uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) that have been specifically designed for tough 24/7 use in railways - the highest requirements that BENNING complies with in its UPS systems of the ENERTRONIC modular SE series.
High degree of IP protection
The order placed by De Lijn was received by BENNING in 2016 after a planning and evaluation phase of about five months. Decisive for convincing the customer was, above all, the resistance of the UPS systems to environmental influences.
This is because not only moisture and humidity, but also the penetration of other foreign bodies such as metal brake dust, which is permanently released from the rolling stock, could lead to serious problems. If, for example, a signal malfunction or even a power outage occurs, the safety of all passengers and railway staff would be jeopardised. However, due to their high degree of IP protection, BENNING's specially developed UPS systems are optimally protected against the penetration of even the finest dust and dirt particles.
BENNING was the only supplier able to offer the transport company De Lijn a modular UPS system with this degree of IP protection. Thanks to its combination of modularity on the one hand and maximum robustness and resilience on the other, the ENERTRONIC modular SE proves to be predestined for this project. But other product features also contribute to ensuring the safest possible operation of the Antwerp Premetro over the long term.
N + X redundant design
BENNING supplies De Lijn with state-of-the-art three-phase UPS systems. These have an N + X redundant design that does not have a "single point of failure" - combined with a minimal service time, which, among other things, is based on the "hot swap" capability of the modules. The resulting availability of 99.9999 % is a crucial advantage, as maintenance windows are only very limited due to the long operating hours of the rail system. In combination with the very good energy efficiency (efficiency > 96 %), a significant reduction in the total costs of operation (TCO) also results.
The best conditions, therefore, to generate more safety in the Antwerp underground and to make railway operations as problem-free as possible.