Monitoring and assessing of the Uithoflijn, ERTMS and ICNG by Certification super specialist

Titia Los is a Lead Assessor from the Certification department at DEKRA Rail. This means she is a project leader, responsible for checks and assessments in accordance with European and Dutch requirements involving trains, infrastructure or rail systems such as safety systems. Thanks to the dozens of years of experience she has, and her wealth of knowledge, Titia can be considered a super specialist within her professional area. This article describes three specific practical situations to shed light on exactly what her work entails. Would you like to find out more about DEKRA Rail’s role in the implementation of the Uithoflijn, The InterCity New Generation and ERTMS? Keep on reading below.

Titia Los is a Lead Assessor from the Certification department at DEKRA Rail

From safety management system to Certification Lead Assessor
With more than 30 years of professional experience, Titia has definitely earned her stripes in the sector. Her career started at NS in 1986, where she specialized in safety systems. She then continued her career in electronics systems maintenance. Her many years of experience in rail safety and safety management systems mean Titia is your perfect port of call for all your questions related to safe process organization. Titia became a DEKRA Rail employee in 2007. DEKRA Rail is an independent party for checks and tests in accordance with European and national legislation. Titia combined her technical knowledge and her knowledge on legislation and regulations and uses the resulting skillset for her work in the Certification department.

NoBo, AsBo, ISA and DeBo
Titia and her colleagues in the department are accredited to carry out activities such as Notified Body (NoBo), Assessment Body (AsBo), Independent Safety Assessor (ISA) and Designated Body (DeBo). Titia: “One of our roles as Certification department is to perform technical assessments with the use of standardized legal assessment frameworks. This can be a European assessment framework, in which case the work is referred to as NoBo. Checking against national legislation is called a DeBo assessment. The work is very similar, the only difference is the assessment framework. We also carry out safety assessments against the CSM-REA (Common Safety Method – Risk Analysis and Evaluation), which is called AsBo. Finally, we test the EN50126 range against the so-called CENELEC standards and refer to this as ISA. We always work as a team within the department, because we maintain the four-eyes principle.”

Specific rail knowledge combined with personal skills
Titia’s profile is rare within the rail sector. There are few rail professionals with this level of railway technology knowledge who are also familiar with and stay up to date with the ever-changing legislation and regulations and its inevitable consequences.

Titia: “Indeed, you have to be a master of many trades to do this job. You have to know the ins and outs of the entire transport and safety system and that’s intricate stuff. When I started working for NS, I was given a three-month welcome and introduction course that looked at every single rail process. Valuable training that still bears fruit today. The advantage of professional knowledge is almost as important as my critical approach. My work is analytical and I have to be acutely aware of the presence of risks at all times.”

What does this mean in practical terms?
Three specific practical examples will provide an insight into the extent of Titia’s work.

Uithoflijn (ISA)
Since 2013, DEKRA Rail has been involved in the design and realization of the Uithoflijn in Utrecht, now nearing completion. Titia and her colleagues tested the design as ISAs (Independent Safety Assessors). Titia: “We tested against EN standards. These standards are issued by the normalization institutes in Europe and prescribe how to safeguard the safety of a system. How does the organization manage safety aspects? What are the risks? And how can these risks be managed correctly? As well as an annual audit to determine the organization’s position, we analyzed the evidence chain presented by the organization. This evidence should demonstrate that the product is being developed safely. A document - the so-called safety case - describes how safety is correctly implemented in the system. Titia: “We recently assessed the safety case for the Uithoflijn. What’s more, we check whether the underlying safety analyses are valid. Are the contents of the safety analysis correct? Has nothing been omitted? Has it been carried out correctly? And was it carried out by the right people?

Another example is the DEKRA Rail involvement in the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS). The Dutch legacy system for rail safety, ATB, functions well but is getting outdated and originates from a time of fewer trains. Over the coming decades, ATB is to be replaced with ERTMS: the ultimate international standard for train safety within Europe. ProRail drew up specifications for the Dutch rollout and reviewed whether all safety aspects are adequately safeguarded. DEKRA Rail was asked to issue an opinion in the capacity of AsBo. Titia: Our team of four people will assess whether the safety analyses provided are substantively adequate. In addition, we check that it was drawn up by the right people and whether everything was genuinely included. We also check whether all documentation is final. Have we been offered an authorized document or is it only a draft?

ICNG (DeBo and AsBo)
DEKRA Rail also plays an important role in the implementation of the new NS intercity trains: the InterCity New Generation (ICNG). DEKRA Rail is both the DeBo and AsBo party, which means that we assess in accordance with national legislation and European safety regulation. NS has procured a certified train and the supplier Alstom is required to demonstrate that the train meets all requirements in accordance with European legislation, as well as national legislation and safety. We come into play for the latter two. Titia: “DEKRA Rail was given this assignment all the way back in 2016. We have already completed all work for AsBo and the DeBo activities started in 2019. This means we test whether the design meets the requirements stipulated in the Dutch Railway Vehicles Commissioning Regulation (RIS). For this, we receive the necessary drawings, calculations and documents from the supplier.”

“You have to be a master of many trades to do this job. You have to know the ins and outs of the entire transport and safety system, be knowledgeable about the legislation and regulations and also have a critical and analytical approach.”

Great sense of responsibility
The main aspect of her job Titia enjoys is that the activities have a significant impact on our society. Titia: “When we issue a certificate and a train actually get placed in service, I am really rather proud. It is satisfying to know I contributed to the process and the product will be used on a large scale.” This sense of responsibility can also be difficult at times. Titia: “Once I place a signature on a report, it should mean it is genuinely safe. If my gut feeling is wrong, I won’t sign the report. There is an enormous impact if something proves to be wrong afterwards. Of course, I can never give a 100% guarantee.”

Long-term projects and strict deadlines
What makes the work challenging is the often long-term projects that run over several years, which is especially true for new infrastructure or trains. The certification or testing often has to wait until one of the last phases. So if a project overruns, there is pressure on our activities. Titia: “Project hardly ever actually run to time, but the end date doesn’t change. As we are the final link in the process, a difficult job often awaits us. The time we are given to process the information is usually shorter than previously agreed. This causes some issues every now and then. We use a pragmatic approach for these issues. We are flexible and will always consider the options to ensure we meet the deadline.”

Would you like to find out more about our service provision? If you have any specific questions for Titia, please her directly.

July 2019

Share page