Hassle-free transport

Courtesy of the impressive performance it has delivered for almost two decades, Metro Service was recently awarded the O&M contracts for the third line of the Copenhagen Metro and the Greater Copenhagen Light Rail Line 3 project

For more than 17 years, Metro Service has overseen the rise of Copenhagen Metro as one of the world’s best subway systems. The company was originally founded in 1999, three years before metro MS 155 bopened. In 2018, the joint venture between Milan’s public transport provider ATM and AnsaldoSTS (today Hitachi Rail STS) was formed to take care of the operation and maintenance of Danish capital’s metro. Having lived up to the expectations, Metro Service was recently awarded a five-year contract for the operation of the system’s M3 line, also known as the Cityringen (City Circle Line), that is scheduled to open this summer. In addition, the company won the O&M contract for the Greater Copenhagen Light Rail Line 3, projected to begin operation in 2025.

Talking about these programmes and other highlights is Metro Service’s Managing Director, Claudio Cassarino. “With the city of Copenhagen growing and more people and businesses relocating to the capital, its public transport requires continuous development. The plans for the construction of the Cityringen were approved in 2007 and we are mere weeks away from its completion. The line will have 17 stations, which will all be underground, and, just like the M1 and M2 lines, will be using driverless trains running 24/7. It bears mentioning that the Copenhagen Metro is the only metro system in Europe operating on a 24/7 basis. We have already recruited the necessary personnel and we will shortly be starting the trials.”

Unlike the other two lines, M3 will make use of a more modern CBTC signalling system that will allow a shorter headway between the trains. Claudio explains: “We expect trains to arrive every 90 seconds at each of the Cityringen stations, which will be a significant improvement to the just over two minutes of headway on the existing lines. The M3 will also be a lot more resilient to disruption and it should be able to restart service more quickly, thanks to the utilisation of a radio-based CBTC system. As a whole, we anticipate a dramatic increase of passenger numbers when M3 opens and while we will start with a fleet of 28 trains serving the line, Metroselskabet – the owner of the metro – will be looking to purchase a further 11 vehicles in the future.

“We are very proud of the service availability we maintain day in and day out. This is our KPI based on the number of actual train departures against the total number of scheduled departures,” Claudio remarks, going on to discuss the ways in which Metro Service ensures Copenhagen Metro’s reliability. “Under our contract with Metroselskabet – owned by the municipalities of Copenhagen and Frederiksberg and the Ministry of Transport – we are obliged to achieve at least 98 per cent service availability. In the last three years, we have maintained a 99.2 per cent rate and we attribute this improvement to the automatic platform gates installed across all of the Metro’s aboveground stations. Previously, we used optical detection systems, which would, now and then, trigger false alarms and lead to service disruption. Another reason for the better quality of service is the increase in the number of trains in peak hours that we recently initiated.”

Before he gets into a bit more detail of the Greater Copenhagen Light Rail project, Claudio also makes the point that further extension to the Metro could be expected in the coming years. “Metroselskabet is building a fourth line, M4 or the Harbour Line, which will share tracks with the upcoming M3 between Copenhagen Central Station and Østerport Station. Then, north of Østerport, two new stations will open in 2020 and a further five stations will be built south of the Central Station in 2024.

“As to the Light Rail, it will be a 28-kilometre line constructed in the outskirts of Copenhagen that will have 29 stations, some of which will have a connection to the city’s S-train network,” he points out. “It will be a traditional light rail system, therefore, the big difference to the Metro, is that it will not be driverless. In terms of the type of trains that will operate on the line, they will be similar to the Metro ones, but, notably, we will be using Siemens vehicles and technology for the Light Rail, rather than such from Hitachi.MS 155 c

“The rationale behind the construction of the line is the need for better public transport links between the ever-growing suburbs of Copenhagen,” Claudio adds. “It will also reduce the number of passengers that have to pass through the city centre, in order to get from the northern to the southern outskirts and vice versa. This, in turn, will render the trains moving about the central areas less crowded, thus enhancing the overall passenger experience.”

Claudio considers Metro Service’s customer-centricity a core strength of the business, and he is eager to ensure that the company maintains its exemplary relationship with both the passengers and Metroselskabet itself. “Given the bright future ahead of us, shaped by the numerous projects that are being implemented, a main priority of Metro Service will be to continue meeting the expectations of all stakeholders in the best way possible. Owing to our experience, we have proven time and again our ability to react to emerging issues, but we also want to be viewed as a proactive operator capable of introducing improvements that can forestall future problems.

“We are a well-organised company with excellent internal dialogue between the operations and maintenance divisions, and the strong team spirit based on appreciative principles that we display, has always been recognised not just by our main client, but also externally. Our relationship with the trade unions is very good and over the years, we have received overwhelmingly positive feedback from our passengers and have also been named the world’s best metro in 2008 and 2010, when the award still existed, so our goal is to preserve our reputation and deliver services of the highest standard,” Claudio wraps up.