CORDIS - EU research results

Effective and COordinated ROAD infrastructure Safety operations

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - ECOROADS (Effective and COordinated ROAD infrastructure Safety operations)

Reporting period: 2016-06-01 to 2017-05-31

The ECOROADS project is the follow-up of the initiative related to the European Road Safety Directives and the two workshops held at the European Social and Economic Committee (EESC) by a group of international stakeholders in February and May 2013: a debate that was initiated as a result of the coach crash in Switzerland that caused many fatalities. The collision occurred in 2012 with the end wall of an emergency parking facility in the Sierre tunnel, Switzerland, which opened in 1999 and was rated as “good” in a 2005 European Tunnel Assessment Programme (EuroTAP) test. The end wall was placed at 90 degrees with respect to the direction of the adjacent traffic flow, without any adequate protection from collision. This feature of tunnel design is typical for European tunnels, where operations such as RSA (Road Safety Audit) during the design process or RSI (Road Safety Inspection) after opening to traffic, according to the prescriptions of the Directive 2008/96/EC (on road infrastructure safety management), could be beneficial for risk prevention. ECOROADS aims to overcome, where appropriate, the barrier established by a formal interpretation of two Directives 2008/96/EC (on road infrastructure safety management) and 2004/54/EC (on tunnels), that in practice do not foresee the same RSA and RSI to be performed on open roads and in tunnels.
The aim of the ECOROADS project is to ensure that road users can move on European roads where uniform safety measures have been planned and implemented, avoiding different approaches stemming from formal discrepancies in the interpretation of EU Directives.
ECOROADS aimed at overcoming, where appropriate, the barrier established by a formal interpretation of the two Directives 2008/96/EC (on road infrastructure safety management) and 2004/54/EC (on tunnels), that in practice do not foresee the same Road Safety Audits/Inspections (RSA/RSI) to be performed on open roads and in tunnels. To overcome this legal barrier, the project examined a common-coordinated enhanced approach by applying some of the concepts (RSA/RSI) of the Directive 2008/96/EC to transition areas between tunnels and open roads, without jeopardising (but rather complementing) the usual tunnel safety management operations.

The efforts of the ECOROADS partners during the two year duration of the project can be summarised as follows:
- 15 applications (sections having both open roads and tunnels) for joint safety operations received.
- Two voting rounds by an internal committee to select 5 test sites out of the 15 applications.
- Definition of common procedures for the performance of joint safety operations
- Three international workshops and one exchange of best practices to define and then fine-tune the joint safety operation procedures.
- Joint inspections in 5 test sites involving 17 inspectors, 11 observers, 5 facilitators, 5 infrastructure managers and 26 other external experts.
- Recommendations and guidelines for application of the RSA and RSI concepts within the tunnel safety operations.

The 5 test sites used for the joint safety operations are as follows:
- Kennedy Tunnel - E34/R1 motorway - Antwerp, Belgium
- Krrabe Tunnel Tirana - Elbasan Motorway, Krrabe, Albania
- Tunnel Rennsteig Motorway A71Zella-Mehlis/ Oberhof, Germany
- Tunnel Strazevica Motorway A1Belgrade, Serbia
- Tunnel Demir Kapija 1, Road section Demir Kapija – Udovo-Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

• Joint safety operations in tunnels and open roads are possible
There are no technical nor operational barriers to the joint safety operations in tunnel and open roads. ECOROADS analysed that, when managing the real traffic flows in the real infrastructure, there is a need for coordinated actions. This particularly applies to the transition areas where the two different infrastructures (“open roads” and “tunnels”) meet, which leads to the need to develop a harmonised safe traffic management regarding concepts of RSA and RSI.

• Joint safety operation in tunnels and open roads particularly focused on transition areas are useful
From the feedbacks collected from the experts involved in the joint safety operations, there was widespread consensus on the following added value of the joint safety operations:
- Working in a mixed team (safety/tunnel experts), mixture of experiences from different countries.
- Common/coordinated approach for open roads - transition area - tunnel in one project that guarantees a harmonised safety approach in the traffic management, respecting the different technical characteristics in each area.
- Exchange of knowledge and best practices.
- Opportunity to visit and see the tunnel from the inside and see traffic and driver behaviour both inside and outside the tunnel (“feel the traffic on my own”).

• Cost benefits of joint safety operations
Efforts and resources spent for planning and implementing the five joint safety operations were quite high due to the experimental phase of the project.
However, their results and particularly the procedures and guidelines are now validated and made public, thus they can be used by each infrastructure manager and the cost of carrying them out will be very low compared with the safety benefits.

• An international team does not imply more difficulties but adds value
On the basis of the feedback collected from the ECOROADS observers, having at least one road or tunnel safety expert in the team does not cause difficulties and adds value to the joint operations, given the different approach and point of view that person
can bring to the team.
The following key points and issues are based on the evaluation of the joint safety operations and the exchange of best practices and comments received during and after the ECOROADS workshops.
a) According to the project results, certain concepts of Directive 2008/96/EC (on road infrastructure safety management) can be applied to the scope of Directive 2004/54/EC (on tunnels), in close cooperation with the managing departments in the two areas.
b) Road sections, including tunnel sections, should be inspected/audited by both tunnel and road safety experts.
c) Transition areas between tunnels and open roads are of particular interest in terms of their impact on road safety.
d) An innovative update of the new safety standards following the technical developments is welcome. A harmonised approach to fire detection, fire-fighting and communication coverage in tunnels should be addressed.
e) Member States, as supervision authorities, should ensure the mutual recognition of Road Safety Auditors and Road Safety Inspectors certified by other Member States.
f) A coordinated approach to the road safety management of both tunnels and the transition areas is recommended. This will surely facilitate better future integration of road and tunnel infrastructure, also taking into account the costs and benefits of deploying intelligent transport systems and services.
g) Since the majority of road fatalities in the EU occur outside the TEN-T, an extension of the scope beyond the TEN-T to other roads should be considered.
h) The exchange of experts and best practices should be enhanced and facilitated.