German railway set to install 1 million LED luminaires

The German rail network is set to install over 1 million LED luminaires in an ambitious replacement plan to cut energy use by 25 per cent.

Deutsche Bahn says the €5 billion (US$5.7 billion) programme – which will take up to 15 years – will see all lights with traditional technologies including fluorescent, mercury and sodium replaced on 5,400 railway stations, 4,700 rail yards and 50 maintenance depots.

‘Every time when we rebuilt or refresh a station, we change the lighting, mostly to LED,’ explains Josef Krammel, senior lighting engineer at Deutsche Bahn.

The project is not strictly a roll-out but a highly structured and formalised replacement programme. ‘Every time when we rebuilt or refresh a station, we change the lighting, mostly to LED,’ explains Josef Krammel, senior lighting engineer at Deutsche Bahn. ‘Overall there are between 500,000 to 800,000 individual lighting points that will be replaced initially.’ The project is expected to include 1.1 million fittings by 2030. 

The organisation’s lighting engineers have drawn up some of the highest standards seen on an infrastructure project so far, including onerous performance criteria for lightning and surge protection as well as glare. For instance, Deutsche Bahn requires approved products to have 6kV transient protection compared to the current 4kV protection mandated for fluorescent fittings.

Over 400 manufacturers made applications for the contracts to supply the luminaires, but currently only five lighting companies – Norka, Philips, Pracht, Schmidt and Hellux – have products on the approved luminaires list.

Speaking to Lux Review at the annual Lighting for Rail conference in London on 22 June, Axel Stockmar, a lighting consultant to Deutsche Bahn, says each replacement needs to be carefully considered as it isn’t always appropriate to do a spot replacement. ‘For instance, the weight of LED fixtures can be an issue. They can be three times heavier than the equivalent fluorescent fitting, so you may not be able to mount them on the existing wooden poles, and the whole lot will have to be replaced.’

The design of the lit environment is also an important issue. ‘One of main issues in areas with passengers has been glare,’ says Stockmar. ‘We are extremely keen to minimise this, especially its affect on visually impaired people.’

Picture: Jim Maurer

 

  • The annual Lighting for Rail conference is held in London, and is free to engineers in network operators and train operating companies.  For dates and more information, click on the logo.