Gounon says the trials were witnessed by independent observers from the Channel Tunnel Intergovernmental Commission (ICG), High Speed One (which operates the high-speed line from the Channel Tunnel to London), and Eurostar. "We have been working with DB for several months to understand their needs and to acquaint them with the constraints of operating in the Channel Tunnel," Gounon says.
Gounon points out that the fastest time to evacuate a Eurostar class 373 train with about 700 passengers on board during a real emergency last December was 35 minutes. "We plan to conduct an emergency evacuation trial with a Eurostar train next year," says Gounon.
"We have done all the tests with ICE that are needed for us and the IGC," he says. "We are now writing the final analysis of the tests and will report back to the IGC by the end of the year."
As far as introducing trains with distributed traction in the Channel Tunnel is concerned, Gounon says trains must be able to withstand a fire for 30 minutes in order to exit the tunnel. "DB says it will have no problem meeting that requirement with ICE," he says.
Gounon points out that Eurotunnel will complete the construction of two 800m-long safety platforms in each running tunnel as a cost of €20 million by the end of 2011. These will have sprinklers to dampen fires and more flexibility to evacuate passengers.