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Safer tramways: born out of Jupiter Plast and Siemens co-operation

News International-French

6 Aug 2011

There’s nothing more frightening for a commuter than the thought of a subway or tram-train crash. Fortunately, a partnership between Jupiter Plast and Siemens Mass Transportation has resulted in the all-composite Avanto tram-train front end, whose high strength is ideal for resisting even the most violent of crashes.

(Published on July 2006 – JEC Magazine #26)



The shared goal was to design and calculate a composite tramtrain front end with defined crash properties, capable of withstanding a 30-ton frontal impact. In the event of a crash, the front end actually collapses in a predefined manner so that it protects the driver and passengers. All calculations were carefully tested at the Vitry Test Centre of the SNCF, the French national railway company, near Paris.



The composite solution


Jupiter Plast used a sandwich construction combining a Rohacell core in different weights with various biaxial and triaxial reinforcement mats, with vacuum infusion as the selected process. Various fabrics of fibreglass make up the outer shell of the tramtrain front.


A Modar methacrylic resin was selected due to its ability to meet fire and smoke requirements. The resin is also lightweight, which is particularly advantageous for environmental reasons as it reduces energy consumption.



Working together


The partnership between Jupiter Plast and Siemens dates back to 1996, when they began delivering GRP toilet cabins for high-speed trains. Work on the Avanto project began at the end of 2004 and the finished product was ready for delivery and marketing by the end of 2005.


Siemens defined a set of specifications for the product, so that it would meet the crash and performance goals both companies had set. Jupiter then constructed the parts by producing all the moulds and bonding the fixtures, which were chosen based on weight and fire standards. The parts were then tested extensively using FEM calculations and crash simulations. Commenting on the group effort, Jupiter Plast’s director Hans Gabelgaard, said: “We have worked together with them in a lot of different cases, so there was nothing very new this time. The co-operation went smoothly , as always, and they had a very skilled and experienced project leader, along with some very experienced and skilled static analysts such as Michael Kammler, who was responsible for the whole train.”



France Rail Statistics
There are nearly 32,000 kilometres of train tracks in France.


In 2004, 1.33 billion passengers rode the Paris Subway.


Lines 1, 2 and 3 of the Paris Subway date back to 1904.


The marketplace and its future;


The front end is a vital structural part of the tram-train that Siemens has developed for the SNCF. To date, 30 front ends have been ordered and Mr Gabelgaard feels encouraged by the results. He added: “We think it is a smart product for public transportation, and we expect future sales to come.”