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Application to Spain of EU legislation on tunnel safety

Rafael Lopez Guarga
Chief Engineer
Demarcation of State Highways in Aragon
Ministerio de Fomento
Committee tunnels

The white paper of the European Commission on transport policy refers to the need to plan a European Directive harmonizing the minimum safety regulations must be enforced, establishing the conditions capable of ensuring a high level of security for users tunnels, especially those located along the trans-European network. The Community directive on tunnel safety drafted by the Directorate General for Energy and Transport of the European Commission was approved in April 2004, and imposes a number of organizational and technical obligations for tunnels over 500 meters long located along TEN.

From the technical point of view, the Directive deals with safety measures and lays down sixteen parameters to be taken into account when defining both measures and safety equipment to be used (length, number of tubes, geometry, traffic , accesses, geographical location, etc.). It establishes a series of obligations and recommendations affecting structural measures, lighting, ventilation, SOS posts, the network of hydrants, signage, control centers, control systems, equipment for closing tunnels, communication systems, power supply emergency and fire-resistant equipment. In areas where the Directive imposes costly and difficult to implement standards in existing tunnels, it allows other measures as long as they have previously carried out the relevant risk analysis. The safety documentation shall define the measures of prevention and protection that the organizing parties must guarantee necessary to ensure user safety before putting the tunnel into service, materials and human resources to deploy resources and instructions to be issued by management to ensure that the measures operated and maintained properly. An additional requirement is to draft a Safety and Intervention Plan covering all possible emergency scenarios, while regular drills in major tunnels will be advisable and even indispensable.

In the particular case of Spain, affected by the directive, they are currently in service 38 tunnels on motorways without tolls that are part of the trans-European network. Its application requires a specific study case by case.

road tunnel, safety, Trans-European Network, Tunnel equipment, Safety Plan

Asociación Española de la Carretera
Goya, 23 - 4º Right.
28001 - MADRID (Spain)
Tel .: (34) 91 5779972
E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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