Introduction to the process of validation of ADIF (Spanish Railway Administration) railway products


Changes in management policy in ADIF has led to the necessity of validating (accrediting) railway products, as described on its website, in order to assure safety and efficiency of rail network operated by ADIF.

A validation (accreditation) process basically consists in unequivocally demonstrating compliance with a series of characteristics contained in a reference document, in accordance with a general accreditation procedure.

In the case of railway material to provide to ADIF, the general procedure is the "Validation procedure of railway products" from July 2019 (previously called "General procedure for accreditation and reception of railway products" from February 2016), and each product will have a technical specification (TS) complying all the necessary requirements. Technical specifications can be found in this ADIF link>>

The first step in obtaining the validation (accreditation) of a railway product to supply ADIF is to identify technical standards of ADIF (TS, technical specification) that apply to the product to be accredited and follow the steps indicated in the general accreditation procedures.

The second step is to contact a Notified Body, NoBo, since general procedure in its corresponding External Certification section indicates that it must be "a certification body recognized by ENAC or an equivalent state body within the EU scope that issues a report accrediting tests have been passed and the validity of the product regarding reference standards". The Notified Body will be responsible for auditing and determining the validity of the product, although it will be ADIF who will finally validate the validation (accreditation), including the manufacturer and the product in the list of accredited companies and products.

Technical regulations of ADIF follow the same scheme:

  • General aspects of the equipment are described.
  • The functionality of the equipment is detailed.
  • All the technical requirements that allow to define the equipment and
  • A whole series of tests is listed which will allow to demonstrate that the equipment has the functionality and characteristics desired by ADIF for that product. The group of tests that demonstrate product conformity and the small group of tests that will be carried out upon receipt of each order are also further explained.
  • Sometimes, depending on the product, the pilot tests and accelerated aging tests that are deemed appropriate to ensure long-term service life are also detailed.

One of the main aspects included in the technical regulations of ADIF and in the general procedure is that tests must always be carried out in accredited laboratories or, failing that, in a centre under CSIC or CEDEX.

Therefore, an accreditation process involves at least 4 parties:

  1. ADIF,
  2. NoBo as principal auditor,
  3. external laboratories accredited by ENAC (or equivalent body) and
  4. the applicant companies.

What does LEEDEO contribute in this whole process?

The company that requests a validation (accreditation) of a railway product to ADIF according to a specific technical specification must dedicate a multidisciplinary team to achieve this objective. A person from quality department being able to shape that documentation will be needed. This person will write new documentation and/or will evaluate the validity of internal and external documentation being available.

You will need a person from quality department who will be able to shape that documentation, write new documentation and/or evaluate the validity of internal and external documentation being available.

You will also need a project manager with technical and quality knowledge, being able to manage conducting tests of external laboratories. Identifying laboratories, requesting offers, selecting the best option, managing sample submission, monitoring the results and ensuring that the final report will include each and every one of the requirements expressed in technical specifications.

Finally, all this documentation must be submitted to NoBo and, in order to achieve validation (accreditation), justify before NoBo the fulfillment of each one of the requirements contained in technical specification. Workload is important and can divert significant human resources from ongoing projects.

This is, at best, the description for accreditation process whenever demonstration of a requirement could be performed through testing, in an accredited laboratory. However, there are several situations that will complicate this procedure. There are no ENAC accredited laboratories for each one of the requirements which may form part of a TS.

An ENAC accreditation is always carried out against a specific national or international standard, in a particular range. There may not be any laboratory accredited according to the standard indicated or accredited under that standard, but only partially. For instance, a laboratory may be accredited to the same standard, but up to -20°C instead of up to -40°C for environmental test.

Another usual situation, especially in functional tests, is that there is no standard describing the test to be performed because it is too generic. In that case, if there is no standard against which to be accredited, no laboratory can be accredited for that test.

This situation occurs very frequently in technical specifications of ADIF, so the company must have personnel who are able to design experiments, properly document them and defend the technical validity in front of the expert who will appoint the NoBo to evaluate that requirement. This will allow to demonstrate compliance with requirements in which it is not possible to go to an accredited laboratory.

LEEDEO has engineers with extensive experience in technical departments, with experience in testing laboratories, in conducting tests, in quality systems and highly experienced in project management, capable of giving the necessary support to the company that wishes to certify their product. LEEDEO can provide this multidisciplinary team of engineers that requires a validation (accreditation) process and not diverting resources from the normally saturated technical and quality departments of the companies. Furthermore, LEEDEO has experts in electromagnetic compatibility and Radio Frequency (RF) design/ Radio Equipment Directive (RED) who can contribute their experience in these two areas to any product in the process of railway accreditation.

Rely on us to validate your railway products in front of ADIF Spanish Railway Administration. We have dozens of projects of experience in this area, providing efficiency and speed on the process. Contact>>

Interesting webpage link:

Access to the official ADIF webpage>>

Webpage of ADIF document on the steps to be followed>>

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