This year, the tunnel test conducted for the EuroTAP tunnel safety programme (European Tunnel Assessment Programme) concentrated on just a few test objects. The reason for the narrow selection is rather pleasing: to meet the requirements of the 2004 EU Directive, construction work on an unprecedented scale is going on in European tunnels. And where building is in progress, testing does not make sense. Therefore, only 13 European tunnels were included in the 2009 test programme, the test's 11th anniversary. Among them are four tunnels each in Switzerland, Germany and Spain and one in Croatia.
As in previous tests, the test objects were selected by their length and significance for tourist travel. The test candidates in Switzerland are on major routes to ski resorts, but the roads concerned are neither part of the Trans-European Road Network (TERN) nor of the Swiss national road network. This means that although the EU Directive presents an important guideline for these tunnels, it is not binding. In Germany, only urban tunnels were tested. The Vielha tunnel (former Alfonso XIII) in Spain and the Tuhobić tunnel in Croatia were tested for the second time, since each tunnel scored a "very poor" ranking, one in 2000 and the other in 2004.
Once again, ADAC commissioned DMT GmbH & Co. KG, an international technology service provider in the fields of raw material, safety and infrastructure, with the implementation of the tests. The DMT experts tested all 13 tunnels on site between 20 January and 5 February 2009. Following the inspection of a tube, the experts discussed all safety-relevant issues with the operators and examined the pertaining documents. Prior to the inspection, the tunnel operators received a data sheet to be completed with the most important technical tunnel parameters. This data sheet was reviewed again on site.
For the objective tunnel assessment, ADAC transport experts and DMT developed a checklist which is updated every year and conforms to the high standards defined in the national provisions for road tunnels in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France and Great Britain. It also complies with the EU Directive on the minimum safety requirements of tunnels in the trans-European road network. The checklist consists of eight categories: tunnel system (14 percent weighting), lighting and power supply (7 percent), traffic and traffic control (17 percent), communication (11 percent), escape and rescue routes (14 percent), fire protection (18 percent), ventilation (11 percent) and emergency management (8 percent).
Safety and risk potential
More than 200 data sheet sub-criteria help to assess a tunnel's safety potential identifying all constructional and organisational measures required to prevent emergencies or restrict the extent of emergencies. In addition we determine the risk potential, a parameter to assess the risk of being involved in an incident while travelling through the tunnel and the severity of the consequences that may ensue from an incident. For the overall result of a tunnel, the safety and risk potentials are combined.
The safety measures of the individual categories may complement or compensate each other as is the case with the measures for detecting and controlling incidents, or they may be more or less independent as, for example, in the area of preventive measures. The highest level of interrelation exists within and between the escape & rescue routes and ventilation categories where major deficiencies cannot be compensated by any other measures. For a tunnel to score an overall positive result, all eight safety potential categories should obtain positive results. At least there should be no "very poor" results. Anything else will activate the KO criterion downgrading the overall result on the basis of a defined mechanism.
The EuroTAP rankings "very good", "good" and "acceptable" are in the positive range, while "poor" and "very poor" are in the negative range.