DENMARK: State-owned operator DSB has received government authorisation to start the procurement of its next generation of trains for the København S-bane, paving the way for fully-automated operation from 2029.

Due to be rolled out over the next 15 years, the trains are intended to replace the 104 eight-car and 31 four-car wide-bodied EMUs procured between 1996 and 2004. The first units are expected to begin test running in 2028, with the fleet entering service in 2029-37.

In 2017 the government decided in principle that the stand-alone suburban network should transition to driverless operation at Grade of Automation 4, following Banedanmark’s investment in communications-based train control using Trainguard MT equipment from Siemens Mobility. The final sections of CBTC were commissioned in September 2022.

DSB began a market-sounding exercise for the automation programme in 2019, and subsequently appointed a joint venture of Cowi, Parsons and Systra to provide consultancy services under a multidisciplinary framework contract potentially running for up to 20 years. Last year Ricardo Certification was selected to act as Assessment Body for the project.

According to DSB, further upgrading of the infrastructure will be required to support fully automated operation. It is currently preparing a tender for the supporting systems, with a view to obtaining political approval later this year. The operator anticipates that the first service to be converted to driverless operation from 2029 will be the orbital Line F between Ny Ellebjerg and Hellerup, which is the only route that does not use the busy cross-city core through København H.

‘The current S-bane has reached its maximum capacity during rush hour, and our current generation of S-trains must be replaced within 15 years’, explained Jürgen Müller, DSB’s Director of Strategy & Rolling Stock on May 4. ‘We are pleased that we have been given the political green light; with this tender, the S-bane of the future has really taken off.’