THE LONG-awaited fixed link across Denmark’s Great Belt is on course to carry its first revenue-earning train on April 1. When the road and rail link between the islands of Zealand and Fünen was authorised in 1987, it was scheduled to open for rail services on September 15 1993 and the parallel road link three years later. Both dates have now passed, and still the workers are in full possession.

The link comprises three main elements. Between Fünen and the islet of Sprogø in the middle of the Belt, road and rail are carried on the single-level West Bridge using parallel precast concrete box girders. On Sprogø the modes separate, with the railway dropping from the 18m high bridge to a tunnel entrance 20m below sea level and the road climbing onto a 6·8 km suspension bridge. The East Bridge has a 1624m main span giving 65m clearance for shipping.

From Sprogø to Zealand the railway runs in two parallel 8 km bored tunnels 25m apart. These have prefabricated concrete linings, and an internal diameter of 7·7m. The deepest point is about 75m below sea level. Every 250m there is a cross passage containing technical equipment, which also provides an escape route between the walkways in the running tunnels.

Link promotor A/S Storebaeltsforbindelsen, a state-owned company, has funded construction using commercial bank loans, to be repaid from road and rail tolls. Installation and testing of the railway equipment was subcontracted to DSB, which set up a project team under the Banetechnik arm within the DSB Bane Consulting business unit. Since January 1 DSB Bane Consulting has been part of the infrastructure directorate Banestyrelsen.

DSB Banetechnik Project Director Hans Tychsen says the team has been responsible for planning, designing, construction management, site supervision and commissioning of all railway installations on the link. Total route length is 25 km, including new approaches on both Zealand and Fünen as well as the 18 km coast-to-coast section. The railway has been designed for trains to run at up to 200 km/h, although the official maximum is 180 km/h and the top speed in the tunnel section at opening will be 140 km/h.

Commissioning schedule

Despite the delay to the civil works caused by a tunnel boring machine fire in 1994, DSB Banetechnik has moved quickly to complete the railway installation. The north running tunnel was fitted out in less than six months following handover in May last year, using the experience gained in the southern bore during 1995.

As well as the trackwork, described on p110, the railway package covers power supplies, signalling, communications, and tunnel services such as ventilation and drainage. The link will form an integral part of Banestyrelsen’s København - Odense main line, and is being equipped with standard Danish colourlight signalling and Siemens automatic train protection equipment.

The three interlockings at New Korsør, Sprogø and New Nyborg are the first solid-state installations for stations on DSB. Developed by the Danish arm of ABB Signal, the equipment is derived from the Swedish Ebilok 850 version. The signalling will normally be controlled remotely from the regional centre at Roskilde, or from Banestyrelsen’s national traffic regulation control room in København, although local emergency panels are provided at each station.

Tunnel management will be done from a control room within New Korsør station, using a SCADA computer network. Operators on duty around the clock will monitor all the ventilation and drainage systems, fire detection and communications links, power supplies, and the cross-passages and their pressure doors.

Installation and testing of the various systems was largely complete by mid-December, with independent inspectors checking each package on behalf of DSB Banetechnik and the ultimate owner. Tests with moving trains began on November 1, and trials at 180 km/h were successfully completed before Christmas. A series of high-speed runs at 200 km/h plus was scheduled to take place in mid-January.

DSB Banetechnik is due to hand the completed railway over to A/S Storebaeltsforbindelsen on February 1, so that the customer can work up operating procedures and start test running ahead of the formal start of services. As DSB itself is contracted as operator, Tychsen expects there will be a degree of overlap between the later phases of the technical work and the early stage of ’traffic commissioning’.

The railway link is scheduled to be fully operational on June 1, ready for the European summer timetable change, which will see a radical restructuring of DSB’s inter-city and regional rail operations (RG 2.96 p88). In order to bring the benefits on stream as quickly as possible, freight trains will start using the link on April 1 when the commissioning process permits.

When the link was launched, the government’s intention was that DSB would have three years before the parallel road was completed. With inter-city trains crossing the belt in seven minutes compared to an hour’s ferry crossing for motorists, DSB was expected to boost its market share substantially. The delays have eaten into this advantage, but it is likely to be mid-1998 before the East Bridge is completed. DSB will still have a brief window of opportunity. o

CAPTION: An emergency evacuation drill was held on the West Bridge on December 16, simulating the derailment of an inter-city train; ambulances from Fünen were on the spot in 17min

CAPTION: The tunnel systems will be managed from a control centre (below) at New Korsør station, which includes a disaster co-ordination room for the emergency services. The station is about 1 km from the tunnel portal (centre)