The EN 45545 standard is a central building block for the safety regulation of trains and trams in Europe. It aims to minimise the likelihood of fire and, in the event of fire, to control the speed and extent of fire development in order to mitigate negative effects on passengers and staff. Composites play a major role in this effort.
The standard divides vehicles into four operational and four design categories, represented by the letters ADSN. The combination of these categories determines the hazard level of the vehicle, divided into classes HL1, HL2 and HL3. These hazard levels specify which materials may be used in the respective vehicles. For example, requirements are set for fire resistance, smoke development and the toxicity of the resulting fire gases.
Versatility and Safety through Composite Materials
Fibre-reinforced composites (FVW) offer an effective way of counteracting the spread of fire and suppressing the development of smoke and toxic gases. Their fields of application in modern trains, trams and buses are extremely diverse: they range from side panels and skirts to load-bearing roof elements as well as various profiles for trim, heating ducts, ceiling profiles, handrails and window profiles.
These materials are often selected based on a balance of mechanical properties, cost and compliance with fire, smoke and toxicity standards. Composites are valued not only for their light weight, fuel economy and structural strength, but also for their ability to improve component functionality, prevent corrosion, provide thermal insulation and provide a surface for durable paint coatings.
Compliance with Fire, Smoke and Toxicity Requirements
The EN 45545-2 standard lists 26 product groups of materials and components that must meet specific fire, smoke and toxicity requirements. Composite materials containing flame retardant additives are a preferred choice. Additives such as aluminium trihydrate, for instance, can contain or delay the combustion process. By working closely with specialist composite partners, manufacturers can obtain tailor-made solutions that meet the stringent requirements of the EN 45545 standard. This can significantly improve safety for passengers and staff on public transport.
Understanding and correctly implementing the requirements of this standard are crucial to optimising safety standards in public transport and thus maximising safety for all stakeholders. Often the relevant materials or necessary basic materials are produced in toll manufacturing for manufacturers of seats or other elements. Of course, such specifications are also met in the refurbishment of seating systems in trains.
(Source: Technical Textiles 3/23)