Automated trains on underground line U5

Underground platform and train in Barcelona

An automated train run by TMB in Barcelona

With the U5 underground line, Vienna enters into a new technological era: the line U5 is scheduled to go into operation in 2023. It will be the first underground line in Vienna with fully automated train systems that provide several benefits: a better management of service disruptions, better customer services, improved punctuality also in case of service disruptions, and more safety on the platforms due to platform screen doors.

Fully automated system provides higher quality and is more reliable

Fully automated (i.e. driverless) train systems are the state of the art of train technology today. Many cities such as Nuremberg, Lille, Singapore, Dubai, Barcelona, Paris, Copenhagen, Lyon, London, and Budapest already use fully automated systems. Driverless train technology is used in most new underground construction projects around the world. A better management of service disruptions, increased service frequency and a higher capacity as well as improved punctuality are the benefits of the new system.

Platform screen doors will be a central safety feature of the new U5 underground line in Vienna. The railway tracks will not be accessible and many service disruptions can thus be avoided. The existing underground stations Rathaus, Volkstheater, Museumsquartier, and Karlsplatz will be equipped with platform screen doors, which will be an integral part of the new underground station Frankhplatz, and all other new underground stations of line U5 in the future. The driverless train system will be constantly monitored by the remote control centre located in the headquarters of Vienna Public Transport (Wiener Linien) in Erdberg, Vienna’s 3rd district.

CCTV, passenger alarms with direct voice connections into the trains, and an underground line supervisor located in the control centre will be additional features of the fully automated train system. Passengers will still be able to activate the passenger alarm and will be connected to the control centre, which will call emergency services if needed and coordinate the service disruption.

More service staff for passengers

The Vienna underground lines already host semi-automation where drivers need only open and close the doors while the train is on the platform, and the operation of the train is overseen by remote technologies. The tasks of the existing staff will be more service-oriented in the future. More staff will be available for passengers and ready to help and provide them with the information and services they need.

New underground trains

Vienna’s underground network will continuously grow over the next few years and new trains will be needed for the fully automated system, which is why there will be a Europe-wide call for tenders for up to 45 new trains that will also include a maintenance agreement with the future train manufacturer. The new trains will increase the number of trains running on the Vienna underground line network and will be introduced on the new U5 line. They will also replace 24 of the old so-called Silberpfeil trains currently running on the U1 and U4, where there will, however, still be a driver in the cab. The new walk-through trains will be air-conditioned and equipped with CCTV and modern passenger information systems. The first test runs will be made by 2019. The other new trains are scheduled to come into operation between 2020 and 2029. The results of the call for tenders are expected in late 2016.

Further information

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