Copenhagen – challenges for a modern metro

Cities that invested in the construction of a new metro system in recent years encountered both advantages and drawbacks compared to cities that built systems a hundred or so years ago. Metro systems of old still needed to dig tunnels in city centres but the disruption to everyday life did not have the constraints put upon it that would occur nowadays. Cities were also smaller and the metro network would be used to encourage development in the suburbs and adjacent countryside, where building the rail infrastructure would be relatively simple. The metro would thus be an engine for growth.

In more recent times, metros have taken on a different role and are built primarily to ease the problems of traffic and urban congestion. This means no green field sites for construction plus having to comply with current day environmental and safety requirements while having minimal impact on the business life of the city.

The plus side is that the lessons of metro operation elsewhere can be taken on board and the layout and capacity of the system can be accurately modelled. It also means that the use of current technology for all aspects of operation can be designed in from the outset and not have to be bolted on as an afterthought.

Copenhagen is one such city, so the rail engineer visited Metro headquarters to learn how it came about and the service that it offers.

Copenhagen’s current line

When the Øresund link from Copenhagen (København) to Malmö (Sweden’s 3rd City) was being planned, it was realised that this would bring a new influx of business and visitors to the city. Access to Malmö from the wider world would likely be via Copenhagen airport, which in turn would encourage people to visit Copenhagen as well. Thus some form of enhanced urban transport would be required and so a metro line was conceived.

CREDIT - Kristian Mollenborg [online]

Photo: Kristian Mollenborg.

Authorised in 1992, the planning of the route, with all the legal processes that were required, took until 1997 before construction could start. The first section opened in 2002 from Vestamager in the south to Vanløse in the west, including a short section from Fasanvej to Frederiksberg which was a former S-tog (S-train) line. An extension line from the city centre station of Christianshavn to the airport was opened in 2007, the junction being in a tunnel section.Construction work was carried out by a consortium of contractors with the control and communications element being awarded to Ansaldo STS. Owned by the Copenhagen Municipality, the system is in effect a Y layout and is operated as two routes, M1 and M2, serving the two prongs of the Y. It is 21km total length with 10km of tunnel, 12km on either elevated viaducts, embankments or level ground, 22 stations of which nine are underground and is double track throughout.

The elevated viaduct sections have high level stations accessed by escalators. Platform screen doors are provided only in the underground stations.


Thirty-four three-car articulated trains, each 39 metres long, plus three engineer’s vehicles comprise the rolling stock fleet. Electric traction is the classic 750V DC third-rail system but with the trains converting this for 3-phase AC motors. A two-minute headway is achieved in the city centre section at rush hours, reducing to four minutes off-peak. The line is unusual in offering a 24 hour, 7 days a week service, the train frequency at night being every 15 – 20 minutes.

The control centre and maintenance depot are situated at the south end of the line near to Ørestad station. Daily cleaning and external washing are carried out here as well as intermediate overhauls and piece part replacement when heavy maintenance is required. The line operation and maintenance is outsourced to Ansaldo STS which employs ‘Metro Service’ as its sub contractor, this being a consortium of firms both local and international with metro experience.

The signalling (more accurately control and communication) system was state of the art at the time of introduction. As would be expected, the trains are driverless using an Automatic Train Control system that comprises ATS (Automatic Train Supervision) plus ATO (Automatic Train Operation) with ATP (Automatic Train Protection), the latter being the safety critical element. The system is fixed block but with moving block capability around station areas.

Reliability and availability were seen as all important so the system uses a resilient fibre- optic network with a distributed architecture. The whole system is designed for redundancy and this includes the train equipment. Train movement commands are transmitted via jointless track circuits operating in the 9.5kHz to 16.7kHz range upon which digital codes are picked up by the trains.

Traction return current is via only one rail using impedance bonds although there is some cross bonding between adjacent tracks. Interlockings of the ‘Microlok’ type are provided at stations so as to control points at terminal stations, junctions and in the event of trains having to be turned back at intermediate stations to cater for service disruption or engineering work.

Track loops are installed at station sites for non vital activity such as door control. A 1.1 metre tolerance exists for platform stopping accuracy. Trains are fitted with an emergency driver’s panel in the event of system failure. The service availability achieves around 98.6%.

Expanding the network

With the success of the first line, it was almost inevitable that the city authorities would wish to expand the metro network. The original line served the city centre, some business areas and the airport but strangely not the main Copenhagen railway station.


A second line has since been authorised in 2011, again with the contract for control and communication being awarded to Ansaldo STS but using the very latest CBTC (Communication Based Train Control) technology.

The line will be entirely in tunnel and will form a 15.5km ring to be known as ‘Cityringen’. Because of the significant tunnel work needed, it will take some time to build and the in- service date will not be until 2018. 28 trains are to be provided and will also provide a 24 hour, 7 days a week service. The line will provide an interchange with the main line station and an extension line going eastwards from the ring is already planned.

The CBTC system will differ considerably from that used on the first line and will be based upon continuous train-to-trackside communication via radio with the trains determining their own position within the system. Reference points will come from ‘Track 4 Tags’, in effect a proprietary version of a balise. Both train and trackside will be equipped with vital processors to ensure the highest level of operational safety. The radio system will also facilitate real time video images from the passenger cars.

Planning for failure

Maximum train speed will be 90kph with a minimum headway of 75 seconds. The line will be commissioned for UTO (Unattended Train Operation) although it will be possible to drive trains manually at normal speeds, protection being afforded from the ATP element of the CBTC system. In the event of total system failure, the trains will be capable of being moved at slow speed on the basis of ‘drive on sight’.

The system is being designed to prevent trains being stopped in tunnels midway between stations and thus despatch of a train will not generally be permitted unless there is a clear path to the next stopping point. This will thus protect against situations such as a failed train ahead, detection of fire or smoke conditions, platform screen doors failed and such like. Rescue trolleys will be available at key points for the use of emergency services.

In the failed train situation, it is planned that rescue will be by the following train being allowed under controlled conditions to couple up to it and push the failed train to the next station. Both trains would then be cleared of passengers at that point, whence the two trains will proceed to a stabling siding or depot.

Great emphasis is being put on regular and accurate communication to passengers in such a situation by both video and audio messaging. Part of this will be the provision of help call points on every train.

Copenhagen Metro Ugnd Stn Scrn Drs [online]The technology advancement dilemma

Very shortly, Copenhagen will have two metro lines which are entirely incompatible with each other. The only common element will be the cross passages at interchange stations. This demonstrates the rapid technological development that has taken place in the last 10 years. Being ‘closed’ systems, the incompatibility does not matter too much other than the enforced duplication of spares, training and general staff expertise.

Other metro systems are experiencing similar challenges, London being one of them where different lines are being upgraded with systems from different suppliers, none of which have common engineering philosophies except at the highest functional level. CBTC technology is supplied by all the major signalling companies and, whilst all of them provide more or less the same operational features, there is no commonality in design, equipment, or construction. There have been calls for the industry to produce a common specification for CBTC so as to achieve a degree of interoperability or even inter-changeability but little progress has been made.

Compare this scenario to the main line rail situation and one can see why it has taken so long to achieve effective interoperability with ERTMS. One can only hope that the railway control and communication mindset will one day come to terms with the need for both forward and backward compatibility as product technology advances plus some much needed co-operation between suppliers to produce common system designs.

Copenhagen can be justly proud of its expanding metro system, it is well used and performs a valuable service for the city. Coming to terms with the technology will however be ongoing for some time.

Completion date set for Zurich cross-city line

Zurich’s 9.6 kilometre cross-city link is set to open on June 15 next year, Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) has announced.

Earlier this week, SBB began the 200-day countdown to the commissioning of the new line which is designed to relieve congestion from Zurich central station.

SBB said that work would be completed on the new underground Löwenstrasse station and the Weinberg tunnel – the two largest civil engineering projects in the programme – by the end of year, with testing due to start in January.

The new 2 billion franc line between Altstetten and Oerlikon, known as the Durchmesserlinie (DML) cross-city line, has been under construction for six years and will be commissioned in phases between 2014 and 2015.

Londoners show support for Crossrail 2

Proposals to further expand London’s urban rail network have been given public backing, a consultation has shown.

Out of 14,000 people questioned, 95 per cent supported the principle of building Crossrail 2 – a new north east-south west line along the safeguarded route of the Chelsea-Hackney Line.

Transport for London (TfL) presented two possible approaches, a metro option and a regional option, for increasing capacity on London’s rail network, connecting the West Anglia Main Line and South Western Main Line.

The consultation marks another step forward in the life of the project, having already been awarded £2 million for feasibility studies to be carried out.

TfL’s managing director of planning, Michele Dix, said: “Crossrail 2 is vital if we are to support the predicted 10 million people that are expected to be living in London by 2031.

“The positive response we have received from the public and stakeholders for Crossrail 2 is really encouraging – it could be operational in 2030 but it is essential that work continues now to meet this target.”

Polish Pendolino breaks speed records

The EIC Premium Pendolino has broken both the Polish track record and Pendolino speed record during testing.

Having started dynamic testing earlier this month, the new PKP Intercity train first broke the Polish record of 250 km/h after hitting speeds of 291 km/h on November 23 before topping the Pendolino record board the next day with a speed of 293 km\h.

Alstom is supplying and maintaining a fleet of 20 new Pendolino trains for Polish operator PKP, which, once in service, will reduce travel times between Warsaw and Krakow by an hour.

High-speed trial runs are being conducted between Gora Wlodowska and Psary prior to receiving the certification which will allow the operation of regular passenger services.

The record exceeded the manufacturer’s predicted maximum speed of 275 km/h.

Further tests will be carried out over the next couple of weeks to check other components and systems onboard.


Europe commits more money to Italian national network

The European Union is to co-finance two rail improvement projects in Italy as part of the continued investment in the Scandinavian-Mediterranean priority corridor.

The EU will contribute €15 million to two projects, including upgrade works on the Orte-Falconara line and a scheme to double a section of track from Lunghezza to Guidonia.

Set for completion by the end of 2015, the programme of works will also include station improvements and is designed to remove bottlenecks along the routes.

In a separate announcement, an Alstom-led consortium has been awarded a €33 million project to supply and install a new signalling system for the Monserrato-Senorbì and Macomer-Nuoro lines in Sardinia.

The contract covers 90 kilometres of track, 20 stations and a fleet of 50 trains across the two lines.

Milestone reached on Reading viaduct construction

Contractors have installed the first pre-cast concrete beams that will form the deck of a two-kilometre viaduct in Reading.

The new viaduct, which is one component of a £895 million redevelopment of rail infrastructure around Reading, will reduce congestion to the west of the city’s regenerated station when it opens in 2015.

Jim Weeden, Network Rail’s acting programme director for the Reading Station and Area Redevelopment, said: “This is another massive milestone in our investment in Reading’s railway and our £5bn upgrade of the entire Western route.

“Each beam weighs around 40 tonnes and at 23 metres long, lifting them on to the bases we have built was a challenge, especially as we were working next to a live railway.”

Class 317 – half old, half new

When The Rail Engineer last saw train 317722, it was parked in a corner of Bombardier’s Ilford depot (issue 98, December 2012). The interior was missing from two carriages, all of the traction equipment was out from under the frame, and it looked quite forlorn. In fact, this was to be the new Class 317 demonstrator for Angel Trains. It was one of nine 4-car units last used by Stansted Express which have been in storage since early 2012.

The plan was to show how a total refurbishment could change a train. So two cars were being left as they were – the Stansted Express seats had been covered in plastic sheeting to protect them. The other two cars would be completely refurbished and the contrast between old and new would be easy to see.

There would be other changes as well. Out of sight of the passengers, the old DC traction system would be replaced by a modern AC one and various other technical improvements were planned.

Smart new interior

Twelve months later, and the project is almost complete. The Rail Engineer caught up with 317722 again while it was undergoing final test at Bombardier’s Derby factory. Stuart Benford, Angel Trains’ project manager, and Peter Keighron, his Bombardier equivalent, were also on hand to explain just what they had done to the train behind them.

“The 317 is a good unit,” Stuart started off. “It’s not in the first flush of youth, and there are some features that needed improving, but the basic train is sound and quite capable of giving many more years of service.”

Apart from the smart new paint, the most obvious change is the interior. Comparing the two ‘new’ cars with the two old ones is like 01773 852277comparing chalk and cheese. The original Stansted Express carriages are dark and old-fashioned. In contrast, the two that have been refurbished are light, airy and somehow seem to have more room.

Part of that may be down to the seats. They are identical to the ones currently being fitted to new Class 377 trains at the Derby factory – in fact, there is a rumour that a production manager is still looking for two sets of seats that seem to have been ‘misplaced’!

The vestibules are also very different. Gone are the large luggage racks from the airport services, and spaces around the doors are now larger and more open. However, due to the thinner backs of the new seats, there has been no change to the number of seated passengers overall.

Additional details

LED lights brighten up the interiors as well, and the carriages are now PRM (Persons of Reduced Mobility) compliant. With passenger information systems included, the carriages now have all the features of a new train.

As this is only a demonstrator, the original hopper windows have been retained. However, these can always be changed in the future if the operator requires.

Some other small details have been improved as well. One problem with the doors is that, in autumn, leaves get carried into the carriage on passengers’ feet. These then get trapped in the doors and carried into the door pockets buried behind the panelling of the carriage. From there, it is a devil of a job to remove them. As part of this refurbishment, much larger access panels have been fitted to those pockets, so making life easier for hard-pressed depot staff.

Under the frame

Those door pockets are not the only hidden improvements. Major work has been undertaken on the drive train to make significant changes.

Gone are the old DC traction motors. “DC motors are not as good as AC,” Peter Keighron explained. “They don’t regenerate, and they don’t like winters.”

Working with Bombardier engineers from the propulsion centre of excellence at Västerås in Sweden, Peter’s team have developed a special version of the proven MGA280 motor. This fits exactly into the same mountings as the original DC motors, so no modification is needed to the two power bogies.

Class 317 trains have one power car, with two power bogies, and three trailer cars. Of course, the half-and-half approach that the interior received is not applicable here – the entire traction system has been replaced and both driver’s cabs modified to suit.

All of the new control equipment fits under the frame of the power car, but that leaves no room for the battery pack which has to be moved to the adjacent carriage.

01773 852277“This is all proven technology,” Peter commented. “The traction package is similar to that which we use on both London Underground’s new S-Stock and on our Electrostars. It is also used on the Delhi Metro.”

In theory, the new AC motors would be more powerful than the originals. However, as the trains are used in multiples to make up eight and twelve-car consists, the performance of the modified units has been engineered to be similar to those on unmodified trains.

Similarly, the control system has to be compatible so that units can be coupled together and driven from either one cab of this train, or one cab of an unmodified one. However, the new motors will have more tractive effort and will accelerate for longer, reaching the top speed of 100mph more quickly.

In the cab, the only change to the driver’s controls is that the panel now contains a gauge indicating the performance of the regenerative braking.

Final testing

After the unit has been tested at Derby, both in the laboratory and on the short test track, it will be given its first run on Network Rail infrastructure. This programme will be conducted out of Ilford during the night in a signal protection zone (SPZ). Greater Anglia drivers will undertake the tests with a view to the train entering passenger service in February 2014.

Once Abellio and its passengers have experienced the unit in normal service for several months, Angel Trains will then be able to assess how best to offer Class 317 trains to future franchise holders in the Greater Anglia and other regions.

When asked whether it is worth all the effort to refurbish an old train to such an extent, Stuart Benford is in no doubt. “Despite all the work we have done, this train can be leased out to an operator for half of the capital cost of a new one. There is good life left in it yet, and it makes perfect sense for us to rework these trains so they can work more efficiently and economically for the duration of the next franchise.”

Piccadilly line drivers strike announced

Train drivers and other operational staff are to strike next week after claiming that TfL had gone back on an agreement reached in May this year.

RMT members voted 88 per cent in favour of industrial action.

Workers have been instructed not to sign on between midday on December 4 and 11.59 pm on December 5.

RMT has also threatened further action in the form of a 48-hour strike if no deal is agreed.

RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: “The overwhelming 88 per cent vote in favour of strike action can leave management in no doubt that the union is not prepared to accept the continuing abuse of individual drivers and negotiated agreements on the Piccadilly line.

“Back in May, RMT entered onto an agreement in good faith which we hoped would be honoured and would bring an end to this long-running dispute. However, once the threat of strike action had been removed, local management began to systematically undermine and ignore the agreement which now  effectively lies in tatters.”

Abellio unveils new Wuppertal-Solingen DMUs

The first of nine new Coradia LINT DMUs for the S7 Wuppertal-Solingen route has been unveiled by Abellio.

From the December 15 timetable change, Abellio will operate the route for transport authority VRR.

The new trains, which are still awaiting certification, have been procured by Abellio but will later be sold on to VRR which will then lease them back to the operator.

Managing director of Abellio Rail NRW said the LINT model was the “right choice” for the Bergisches Land region.

Paris-Barcelona TGV confirmed for December 15 launch

Officials in Spain and France have confirmed that direct high-speed rail services linking Paris and Barcelona will start from December 15.

The announcement follows months of speculation about the launch of the new service following the comimg_presse_tgv_barcelone_sncf_renfe_plan_27-11-2013pletion of a 131-kilometre line between Barcelona and Figueras at the beginning of the year.

SNCF has said the price of ticket between Paris and Barcelona will start from €59 euros, with journey times of around six hours and 25 minutes.

Initially, Renfe and SNCF will operate five services a day in each direction: two daily services from Paris to Barcelona, and three more trains from Toulouse to Barcelona, Lyon to Barcelona and Marseille to Madrid.

Confirming the launch date, the Spanish government said: “This is a milestone in the interconnection between the two countries deepens our excellent neighborly relations, even closer to the Spanish and French citizens and facilitates the exchange of goods and services, thereby opening a new perspective for the Mediterranean branch of high-speed railway axis of southwest Europe.”