DENMARK: Politicians approved funding for Banedanmark to resignal the entire national rail network with ETCS and CBTC in January. Tendering is expected to get underway immediately, with the whole project to be completed by 2021.

DSB trains.

The total renewal of all signalling on a national rail network in a single programme has never before been attempted in Europe. But the current state of Danish signalling equipment and the recent progress with stabilising the specifications for the European Train Control System have convinced us that this is the right way to go.

After almost three years of planning, Banedanmark unveiled its strategic vision on December 10 2008, seeking political approval for an investment totalling €3·2bn over the next 12 years. Now this has been secured, we have launched a formal tender for consultants to support the procurement and installation programme. This will be followed by the main supply contracts, and we hope to have the first early deployment schemes operational by 2015.

Banedanmark’s signalling equipment is aging to the point where many of the present systems are past their technical service life. This has led to increasing levels of failure, delays to passenger and freight operations, and a general decline in the quality of train services over the past few years. Signalling problems now cause delays to 39 000 trains a year and account for about half of all the delays attributable to the infrastructure manager.

A 2006 study to compare different replacement strategies showed that the cost, risks and benefits of total replacement offered a better option than more traditional migration strategies. In October of that year, Banedanmark obtained a political decision in principle supporting the investment in complete resignalling of the national rail infrastructure.

Since then Banedanmark has set up its Signalling Programme organisation, and developed its proposals with the assistance of a consortium of four consultants: Ramb& oslash;ll of Denmark, Emch-Berger and R+R Burger from Switzerland and Parsons (UK). The strategy envisages total renewal by 2021 on all main and regional lines and by 2020 for the København S-bane.

On the main and regional lines, there will be total replacement using ETCS Level 2. For the S-bane, we propose to buy a commercially-available CBTC system of the type being deployed on modern metros.

Our strategy is targeted at a complete replacement of all signalling systems based on optimised delivery and operations. The aim is to achieve reductions in life-cycle costs while at the same time improving performance. Across the network, passengers can expect better punctuality, with higher line speeds, and shorter journey times on some routes. There will be a higher - and more homogenous - level of safety, and much better passenger information. Banedanmark will have a better basis for future railway development, as well as substantial savings in both operations and maintenance costs.

The resignalling currently excludes local county-owned lines. However, following the signing of the treaty between Denmark and Germany for construction of the Fehmarn Belt fixed link, we have included that line into our migration plans as a future element in the national rail network.

Signalling strategy

Within the overall strategy, we have already taken a number of key decisions about procurement and implementation.

  • Total replacement means total replacement. All existing equipment is to be replaced, no matter its age or level of technology.
  • Procurement will be based on functional requirements, focusing on safety, performance and life-cycle costs for the signalling infrastructure.
  • We will follow European railway and industrial standards wherever possible.
  • We will develop a complete new set of operational rules for the conventional network, following TSI OPE. For the S-bane, we plan to adopt an existing and proven set of rules from other metro or urban rail operators.

Realising that no international signalling or interlocking standards exist today, we believe that lower unit prices will be best obtained by tendering the works in four main contracts: two covering infrastructure works on the conventional network, one framework contract for the onboard equipment and a separate contract for the S-bane CBTC.

This tendering approach should bring additional advantages, with open competition between all major signalling players. Equipment and interface problems between components will be minimised by having one supplier deliver a full signalling package. Among the benefits of having only one safety approval per contract, design and development costs should only represent a small proportion of the total investment.

We envisage a rapid and well-planned roll out, which should minimise the disruption during implementation. The contractors should enjoy a beneficial learning curve from repetitive similar installations, and not least Banedanmark will enjoy a quicker pay-back in terms of operational and cost benefits.

The handful of major contracts will be procured using a combined performance contract, whereby the supplier will be expected to deliver technical operation and maintenance for a number of years governed by a set of performance indicators. This is seen as the best way to secure efficient delivery of the new system as well as a cheaper and more efficient maintenance regime.

The technical specifications in the programme represent our understanding of the current state-of-the art. However, we accept that the technology and roll-out dates may be subject to change as suppliers present their proposals and migration experience during the tendering and contract negotiations.

Scope of renewal

At present, the Banedanmark network totals 2 132 route-km with 3 240 km of running track. It is used by around 700 trainsets and locomotives, predominantly from three major operators: DSB, DB Schenker and Arriva.

The existing signalling equipment is fairly traditional, with colour-light signals, track circuits for train detection and electric point machines. The main lines and principal regional routes are operated from three large control centres and 11 smaller ones. A separate large modern control centre manages the whole of the København S-bane network.

The colour-light signalling aspects and proceedures are described in the Danish rule book SR75, which like most national rulebooks comprises a specific set of operating and safety rules developed iteratively over the past 100 years or so.

Following the resignalling, the Danish conventional lines will have to comply with the Interoperability Directive, and more specifically TSI CCS requiring the use of ERTMS. Our plan is based on ETCS Level 2, as removal of the lineside signals offers substantial economic and operational benefits. Under the auspices of the National Railway Authority, work to develop a new set of operational rules is being undertaken in close co-operation with the functional specification work for the resignalling programme.

Designing the GSM-R data network for the larger station areas is expected to be fairly challenging, especially København main station. The planned introduction of GPRS packet switching for GSM-R will be needed before many of the larger nodes in the European network can be resignalled with ETCS Level 2, but our current estimates suggest that it should be (just about) possible to operate the København area with circuit-switched GSM-R.

In the event that GSM-R data capacity restricts the operational performance of the new signalling and a common GPRS solution for ETCS is not available by 2015, our fallback is to develop a national GPRS solution for domestic trains. This could provide the extra capacity in parallel with circuit switched GSM-R which would still be used by international trains. However, we see the development of GPRS for ERTMS as a high priority, as this would provide a more cost-effective and operationally acceptable solution.

In the long term, a move to ETCS Level 3 or ERTMS-Regional would offer further reductions in the amount of lineside and equipment, with potential benefits in terms of cost reduction, increased reliability and safety for people working on the track. But as these concepts still only exist at specification level, we have decided to focus our development on Level 2 (Fig 1).

We expect that SRS version 3.0.0 will be in place by the time we get to implementation. This is fairly important, as there are number of elements and operational patterns on our network that can only be supported by version 3.0.0. These include:

  • level crossings;
  • joining and splitting of trains, and the need for an efficient ‘start of mission’;
  • a mix of old and new trains in different categories with differing braking curves;
  • interoperable DMIs and effective solutions for cross-border services, notably the Øresund fixed link.

Given that the main driver for the project is the ageing condition of the existing signalling, this effectively precludes the use of dual-equipped infrastructure during the migration phase. Therefore we are working on the basis of double functionality on the trains. Development has started of a national Specific Transmission Module which will enable trains with ERTMS onboard equipment to read the existing ATC.

The migration strategy for the S-bane will be determined in conjunction with the selected supplier, but once again we envisage dual-fitted trains rather than infrastructure.

Early Deployment Schemes

Between now and 2015, infrastructure investment will be limited to life-extension of existing equipment and improving performance on lines with specific punctuality concerns. Most attention will be focused on preparation of the assets for the roll-out of the new signalling and the fitting of on-board equipment to the rolling stock.

During this period the Signalling Programme will expand into a full programme management organisation, with around 40 to 50 staff, and launch tenders for the four main contracts. By the end of the initial period, we expect to have completed installation work on three early deployment schemes covering approximately 300 km in total (above).

The two main line EDS projects cover Roskilde - Køge - Næstved in Sjaelland and Frederikshavn - Aalborg - Langå in Jylland; both are due to be ready for commercial operation around 2016. On the S-bane, we have selected the northern line from Lyngby to Hillerød as the test stretch. These three schemes will provide an extended period of testing and opportunities to prove the reliability of the equipment before full-scale introduction.

Any issues surrounding the new rule book and staff training can also be addressed over relatively long routes in each of the two main contract areas, whilst the same aspects plus ATO can be tested on the S-bane. A long design and test period has been allowed, as the following roll-out schedule is relatively aggressive and makes no allowance for delays as a result of teething problems.

From 2018 a prioritised roll-out of Level 2 will move along the main lines in both Jylland and Sjaelland (blue on map), meeting on the western side of Fyn. The installation programme will then moves back westwards to cover the remaining secondary routes (red). Completion of work in western Jylland and on the Sjaelland coast line is scheduled for 2021, to coincide with the life-expiry and removal of the existing ATP equipment.

At this stage we are still open to the idea of using ERTMS-Regional on the secondary routes, even though the specification is not sufficiently mature. If the current Swedish project is successful in development and consolidation, Banedanmark will re-evaluate the possibility of using ERTMS-Regional instead of ETCS Level 2.

For the S-bane, we envisage a line by line conversion, with the central section being resignalled as one of the last phases (below). This should allow sufficient maturity and efficiency in the deployment and operation of the new systems before any interruption of the most critical section.

Network-wide provision of GSM-R is a prerequisite for the ERTMS conversion, and planning has already been completed for a national roll out of GSM-R voice radio across the whole network by 2011. The tender documentation has already been prepared, and awaits a final go-ahead in the first quarter of 2009. Provision for GSM-R data transmission on both the early deployment schemes and the remainder of the network will form an integral part of the tender.

Procurement strategies

An important factor in our strategy is to obtain the best possible prices by balancing economies of scale with a true competition between the suppliers capable of delivering such a project. This was our main thinking behind the decision to divide the total replacement into four main packages.

Splitting the infrastructure contract into eastern and western packages should ensure that more potential bidders have the capacity to deliver the equipment within our 2021 deadline. Of course, one supplier could bid for both contracts, but they would need to demonstrate that they had the necessary delivery capabilities in place.

In order to estimate the cost of the resignalling and understand the preferences of the suppliers in terms of scope and type of contracts, we held a number of meetings with them during the planning phase. Co-operation with other infrastructure managers has also been useful in helping to define the tasks and priorities for a large-scale renewal programme, as well as in benchmarking costs.

Change management is an important area for consideration, as total replacement of all signalling systems will affect a majority of Banedanmark’s employees. All staff managing day-to-day operations will be faced with new systems and new operational rules, and in many cases there will also be a question of the location of the two planned control centres. All drivers will have to be trained, both in using ETCS and in the new rules. A separate change management project team is therefore being established to handle this transition as smoothly as possible.

Following the formal political approval, the resignalling will be funded by the Danish government as a single package. The total investment is estimated at €3·2bn. Of this around €2bn is for the Level 2 elements, and €400m for the S-bane CBTC. Given the nature of the conversion, we have allowed a contingency factor of around 30% or approximately €800m.

This total cost includes all aspects of the programme: on-board and trackside equipment, interface management, stakeholder management, project management, safety approvals, design, testing, implementation, training and change management. It is a huge task, but it will be a real step forward for Banedanmark.