March 21, 2018

Copenhagen S-Bane CBTC project set for completion by 2021

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THE Danish resignalling programme extends to the Copenhagen S-Bane commuter rail network. Siemens is currently engaged in a €252m project to deploy CBTC across the 170km network and its 135 trains under a contract awarded in 2011. However, it has also faced delays and disruption, and the project is now on course for completion in 2021, three years later than originally planned.

Operation on the demonstration line, which runs for 25km of Line A from the suburb of Hillerod in the north to Jaegersborg east of the capital, did not begin until February 2016. This compares with a target date of December 2014, which for Mr Jan Schneider-Tilli, Banedanmark’s signalling programme director, meant that a full rollout by the end of 2018 as planned originally became impossible.

 

“After February 2016, for the remainder of the year and for much of 2017, there was a lot of effort on maturing the system,” Schneider-Tilli says. “This was a common decision because it is not plug-and-play technology. The system basically works, but there were a number of errors which emerged after installation which would affect passenger operation, and which took time to work out.”

S Bane CBTCFor Schneider-Tilli and Mr Steen Nørby Nielsen, head of Siemens Mobility in the Nordic Region, delays to the project are attributable to three sources: Siemens and issues with its solution; the customer; and the approvals process.

According to Nielsen, all retrofit projects face difficulties with securing sufficient track access to install and test equipment. The timely release of trains for onboard installation can also be a challenge.

Mr Niels Madsen, S-Bane project manager at Siemens, who is working alongside Banedanmark, says that introducing the new CBTC technology in parallel with legacy ATP signalling equipment is one of the biggest difficulties to achieving the functionality of Siemens’ solution.

“This challenge required adaptations to our systems,” Madsen says. “We have seen things occur on several occasions that we did not expect to happen because of the legacy equipment.”

Securing safety approvals in line with the new common safety method for risk evaluation and assessment (CSM RA) has also proved particularly troublesome, according to Nielsen, as this was the first time the method has been used in Denmark. Aligning the system with the particularities of operating in Denmark, including operator DSB’s propensity for splitting and recoupling trains en route, similarly presented a major challenge to the supplier.

Siemens is supplying its Trainguard MT train control system and uses wireless CBTC to achieve automatic operation. The supplier is also providing Trackguard Sicas ECC electronic interlockings, replacing equipment that in some places is more than 60 years old. In addition, it is supplying onboard equipment for 135 S-Bane trains as well as its Controlguide OCS operations control system, which monitors traffic and controls interlockings and infrastructure.

The new system is providing 120-second headways on the demonstration line, and will offer 100 seconds through the core central section. It is also facilitating an increase in the maximum line speed from 100km/h to 120km/h.

Schneider-Tilli adds that the four years it took to develop and deploy the CBTC system is not actually that bad considering the complexity of the project. He also reports that from a punctuality point of view, the demonstration line, which is used by more than 70,000 commuters per day, has performed well, achieving 99% punctuality in DSB’s latest figures.

Away from teething troubles with CBTC, problems with leaves on the line is proving a major challenge for the infrastructure manager to maintain this level of performance in the autumn months. Line speeds have been reduced and the deceleration process extended due to a lack of track adhesion, although Schneider-Tilli says it is hoped that a solution will soon be at hand to this problem.

“We are working hard to find a solution and are optimistic that we will solve the problem by this autumn,” Schneider-Tilli says.

The CBTC solution relies on automatic train operation (ATO) with drivers opening the train doors at stations. This semi-automatic system is a symptom of the the unique fleet of Alstom-LHB/Siemens class SA EMUs currently used to operate the network.

However, with the trains due for replacement from 2024 onwards, a majority in the Danish parliament agreed in December that the opportunity should be taken to introduce driverless operation.

This will begin initially with the self-contained Ring Line in 2024-2026, and if successful, will be extended to the remainder of the network by 2036.The cost of automation is estimated at DKr 4.2bn ($US 694.9m), which will include the installation of lineside fencing and platform screen doors.

Estimates state that full automation will increase frequencies by at least 100% while 24-hour operation will also be introduced, which could boost ridership by 12-13 million passengers per year, financing the cost of the project.

“The idea is to have a more cost-effective system,” Schneider-Tilli says. “It is also true of the maintenance of the trains and the transition to a public-private partnership (PPP) structure for these contracts. More details will be released in the first half of 2018 of exactly what this means.”

Nielsen says the Siemens CBTC project was conducted with future migration to UTO in mind, and that the upgrade should be relatively straightforward to carry out, with the supplier having experience of similar automation projects in Beijing.

For now, the focus remains on continuing the rollout of CBTC, which according to Schneider-Tilli will progress in a consolidated manner on the remaining lines, beginning with Stage 2, in early 2019.

For the onboard element Siemens has already installed equipment on 127 trains, which are operating on the line, and after work on the first 30 was concluded, the supplier has been able to equip three trains every two weeks.

Madsen says rather than working on several rollout phases simultaneously, each line will proceed one-by-one, taking approximately a year to complete each project. And with much of the hard work now seemingly complete, he doesn’t see too many obstacles to achieving this goal.

“Banedanmark wanted it to be proven before rolling it out further,” Madsen says. “We are quietly confident that the next rollout will proceed with only minimal issues and the system will continue to perform better and better. We are sitting closely with the customer, which makes it possible to deal with and solve any complicated issues that might arise.

“It is a real advantage that we are so close,” Nielsen says. “It was a requirement from the customer and it has worked very well during this project.”

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