FRANCE: An agreement signed this month paves the way for tests to begin later this year in the Channel Tunnel on the durability of various track designs under heavy loads.

The tests will be undertaken by Railenium, the railway research institute based in northern France, of which Eurotunnel is a member. Intended to measure the ‘durability of track and equipment’, the tests will focus in particular on fatigue testing of ballasted and slab trackforms.

Eurotunnel will facilitate testing of track components under varying load cycles and train speeds, as well as enabling the trial of various preventive maintenance techniques, including automated repair of components.

In operating 400 Shuttle trains a day with a laden weight of up to 2400 tonnes, Eurotunnel claims the Channel Tunnel is one of the most heavily-used railways in the world, and these extreme operating conditions permit the rapid assessment and validation of innovative railway equipment.