FLIRT STADLER Drei Länder Zug Drielandentrain Ricardo Certification Nederland Belgie Duitsland 4B

Ricardo’s first certification in Belgium: the FLIRT international commuter train

01 Jul 2024


State-of-the-art international train operation across three countries

The first Stadler FLIRT trains with ECTS Guardia signalling system are now in service in Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany, as part of a fleet managed by the Dutch operator, Arriva. Passengers are now able to transit between Maastricht, Liège and Aachen without transfers. 

Ricardo Certification was appointed to test and certify the trainsets against Belgium’s applicable technical requirements, enabling Stadler to attain homologation for FLIRT in Belgium, a major milestone for running an international commuter service in three countries.

FLIRT trainsets were already in operation in Germany and The Netherlands. However, Arriva (based in Limburg) sought to extend service to Liège in Belgium. For Arriva to obtain the necessary homologation for Belgium, Ricardo Certification assessed the compatibility of the FLIRT trainsets with the specifics of the Belgium infrastructure and Belgian national operating rules.

The type testing project consisted primarily of performing test rides on the Belgium railway network, the certification assessment solely relied on documental evidence.

Ricardo Certification has been able to perform certification work as an accredited DeBo for Belgium since 2022, and in this role checked (for the first time in Belgium) the safety of software, and other (safety) systems of the FLIRT trainsets against national requirements.

The test program included pantograph contact force measurements, tests of compatibility of the 3kV electrical system with the infrastructure, axle counter tests and tests of the ETCS train protection system. Ricardo Certification also configured and installed specialised measure equipment and took care of the organisation of the test runs as required.

In close cooperation with Infrabel, the Belgian Infrastructure Manager, the Certification team also specified the most suitable test locations. For the ETCS tests, this required in-depth analysis of the locations of specific balise groups, keeping the need for on-track testing to a minimum.

Ricardo’s SMART Software data analysis delivered reliable test results overnight, which were automatically analysed according to the Belgian requirements for interference currents and compatibility of the 3kV electrical system with the infrastructure. 

With SMART we are able to run the most efficient and fastest test and authorisation possible and reduce costs. All tests were performed successfully and with positive outcomes. The test results, combined with the proof of compatibility by the assessment of the documents, allowed Ricardo Certification to issue the corresponding certificates of compliance This enables Stadler’s FLIRT trains to be homologated in Belgium, representing a major milestone for operating an international commuter service across three countries.