Retrofit of Metro Line 2 – Budapest

Posted: 24 June 2005 | Tamás Szabó, Director for Metro Operation, Budapest Transport Limited | 1 comment

The East-West metro line has been in operation for more than 30 years. It represents the largest capacity and asset value in the public transport system of Budapest and can not be substituted by any other means of transport.

The length of tunnel and open-air sections of the tracks is 8.8km and 1.6km, respectively. The trains pass below the Danube and through nine traffic nodes capable of managing enormous traffic. The line has nine underground and two surface stations. The maximum capacity of the existing infrastructure and the fleet of vehicles is sufficient for transporting 26,700 passengers per hour and travel direction. The degree of utilisation is characterised by the fact that we transported more than 110 million passengers in each of the past few years.

The East-West metro line has been in operation for more than 30 years. It represents the largest capacity and asset value in the public transport system of Budapest and can not be substituted by any other means of transport. The length of tunnel and open-air sections of the tracks is 8.8km and 1.6km, respectively. The trains pass below the Danube and through nine traffic nodes capable of managing enormous traffic. The line has nine underground and two surface stations. The maximum capacity of the existing infrastructure and the fleet of vehicles is sufficient for transporting 26,700 passengers per hour and travel direction. The degree of utilisation is characterised by the fact that we transported more than 110 million passengers in each of the past few years.

The East-West metro line has been in operation for more than 30 years. It represents the largest capacity and asset value in the public transport system of Budapest and can not be substituted by any other means of transport.

The length of tunnel and open-air sections of the tracks is 8.8km and 1.6km, respectively. The trains pass below the Danube and through nine traffic nodes capable of managing enormous traffic. The line has nine underground and two surface stations. The maximum capacity of the existing infrastructure and the fleet of vehicles is sufficient for transporting 26,700 passengers per hour and travel direction. The degree of utilisation is characterised by the fact that we transported more than 110 million passengers in each of the past few years.

For approximately 90 per cent of the total length of the line passengers are transported via underground structures of great value and large dimensions, designed for decades of operation and envisaged to provide favorable traffic conditions in tunnels of varying depth. However, half the assets are approximately 50 years old. The structures and some elements of the technical equipment accommodated therein have shown signs of progressive wear that developed during the more than three-decade long service (exempt, however, from any traffic disorder perceivable by the public) and justified reconstruction of the line’s facilities.

From conception to decision

Following a period of concerted preparations made during many months, the General Assembly of the Municipality of Budapest approved the reconstruction project in early 2003. According to the decision, the complete retrofit of the entire infrastructure (including architectural renovation of the stations) will be completed by the end of 2007. The retrofit, combined with modernisation, became an urgent task because the condition of the facilities and assets support the success of renovation efforts.

In the frame of a public procurement initiative, Tender Invitations were published to support the project’s implementation, in accordance with the relevant regulations and professional requirements. Thus, a single-stage tender invitation was published (according to Hungarian public procurement rules), in addition to four FIDIC-based two-stage procedures (managed according to the international rules, regarding the tunnel tracks, station architecture, insulation/waterproofing and independent engineer) and five other FIDIC-based single-stage procedures (safety equipment, telecommunication, power supply, special engineering jobs and moving stairs of the Deák Square station).

The declared purpose of the retrofit is to establish an urban transport system that meets the technical and (passenger and railway) safety requirements, provides a cultured traffic environment, offers extensive passenger information and is operated at decreasing operating and maintenance costs.

Justifying the reconstruction

There were many reasons to justify the necessity of the retrofit project. Former architectural deficiencies and natural wear provided the first reason. In addition, mention should be made about the statutory provisions promulgated during the past 10 to 15 years in order to improve safety of operation and to set rules that the 30 year old East-West Metro Line is obviously incapable of complying with. Last but not least, the obsolescence caused by the appearance of new generations of advanced equipment justifies the importance and relevance of the reconstruction.

Waterproofing of underground structures

Work completed in autumn of 2003 marked the first phase of the actual retrofit operations, including reconstruction of part of the surface tracks, insulation of the tunnel entry and construction of a deep drainage system needed to discharge seepage that can infiltrate along this section.

The construction of the East-West Metro Line of Budapest began in the 1950s but the work was suspended between 1954 and 1963. Therefore, the structural design lacks uniformity. The construction technology and materials were the best quality at that time but were not commensurate with the world standard. Such antecedents are reflected by the current weaknesses of the system’s structure and insulation. It was clear that no insulation had been applied in certain places, inadequate insulation materials were used or the craftsmen lacked proper training and qualification. The continuous infiltration of water damaged the special operating equipment, fittings and accessories and did not help the condition of the tracks and track anchoring either.

The infiltration of water in the space between the track’s concrete bed and the tunnel’s lower roof-vault has damaged the track and impaired operating safety. Therefore, a deep drainage system must be built along the track’s centre line by deepening the existing escape ditch to the bottom level of the tunnel’s structure. A drift will be cut and chiseled off before the flat-bottom drainage pipes can be laid. The pipes will be perforated along their top surface and wrapped in geo-textile, or the layer of pervious concrete reaching up to the level of the existing railway bed and provided with a shallow ditch. Deep drainage channels will be built along various stretches of the track, formerly served only by an experimental drainage trench.

Once the track’s concrete bed is dry, the existing ditches located at varying depths along the track centre will be filled in order to ensure ‘stumble-free’ use of the escape routes.

Expansion joints will be waterproofed and finished – at the visible spots – with an attractive design. The steel components of the structures and main ventilation shafts shall be given an anti-corrosive coat.

Architectural design of the stations

The complete renewal of the Metro Line’s infrastructure will obviously comprise the comprehensive architectural reconstruction of the underground stations, i.e. eight deep stations and one tunnel station. Simultaneously, elevators needed to connect the level of the surface and the platforms will be built and installed.

The year 2004 marked an important milestone in the history of the reconstruction because we completed comprehensive reconstruction of the first stations and upgraded two stations (Blaha Lujza and Kossuth Lajos Square). Project coordinators and contractors face an even greater workload in 2005 because in the short time available they must reconstruct three stations (Eastern Railway Station, Astoria and Batthyány Square).

In general, the reconstruction of passenger platforms will include renewal or, in several stations, complete replacement of the floor panels. In the station’s passenger distributing hall, hot enameled steel plate panels will be substituted for the existing stone blocks. The renewable stone wall blocks will be restored in the platform area. The design of each station will reflect a ‘touch of Budapest’ feeling. Painted steel sheet panels will be fixed to the walls opposite to the platforms. Arched painted steel sheet panels topped by a drainage umbrella made of hot enameled steel plates will be substituted for the existing flat false ceiling panels. The steel plate panels to be installed near the track will be stuffed with sound absorbing material in order to reduce noise nuisance. The doors of the operating and control rooms that open to areas used by the passengers will be replaced with fireproof doors. Each station will be equipped with devices that belong to a uniform new passenger information system. Remote-controlled passage doors will be substituted for the existing glass doors of the entrance area.

In the course of reconstruction of the stations’ surface facilities, the glass walls must be replaced (in most cases, together with the frame) and also the entrance doors operated inside the surface facilities will be replaced by remote-controlled passage gates. New floor and wall cover panels, false ceiling components and natural and artificial stone blocks will substitute the old ones. Each surface building shall be provided with new, advanced roof insulation. New advertisement billboards of uniform design will be installed. Any other automatically operated equipment will be flush-mounted to match the plane of the side walls.

Also, the existing ventilation systems (including accessories such as air filters, air ducts, check valves, etc.) will be replaced. Some of the service rooms must be air-conditioned, relying on the use of central air cooling facilities or split air conditioners. In addition, the entire water supply and sewage discharge system will be replaced in the frame of the reconstruction.

New telecom cables and a standard system of structures needed to support the telecom equipment will be installed in the service/control rooms and the areas used by passengers. Renovation of the lighting system of passenger platforms and the distribution equipment and networks installed in the stations and the line tunnels will fit in the architectural reconstruction of the stations.

Reconstruction of the railway tracks

This phase of the project will involve reconstruction of three superstructure systems of significantly different design. The surface section of the track (between the tunnel entrance and the Pillangó Street station; furthermore the trial track) consists of reinforced concrete sleepers (48kg) fixed by rail fastenings (Metro-I and conventional type), supported by track ballast. The superstructure installed in the tunnels consists of Metro-I monoblock sleepers and Metro-II adhesive construction (48kg).

In the frame of reconstruction completed in 2003, continuous welded rails fixed to UIC54 reinforced concrete sleepers were installed (along a stretch of approximately 1,700m) on the substructure provided with a drainage ditch. Simultaneously, a shunting place fixed on a reinforced concrete base (54-XIV model) was substituted for the crossover switch built into the trial track. In addition, the dead-end siding installed in the trial track (at the end at Pillangó Street) was connected to the crossover track that links the Fehér Road service yard and the railway network of the Hungarian State Railways.

Reduction of the variety of rail fastenings to merely two models was considered a paramount criterion of the track reconstruction. The new fastenings should out-perform the existing ones in terms of sophistication, flexibility and noise and vibration attenuation. Along the 7,600m long section of Metro-I type, the new rail fastenings will be fixed to the existing monoblock sleepers while the 1,100m long Metro-II section will be provided with fastenings fixed to the existing anchor plates. The total length of the tunnel will have S54 rails of hardened top.

In order to ensure conformity with the new system of rails and rail fastenings and due to their wear and obsolescence, the third (conductor) rails will be replaced simultaneously with the inclined rail heads and expansion joints. The entire length of the station platforms will be provided with new conductor rails.

Replacement of the partially deteriorated concrete basement and de-watering of the tunnel tracks by building drainage ditches is logically related to the laying of new railway tracks but shall be completed in the frame of tunnel reconstruction.

Similar to the replacement of approximately 3,600m track structure implemented in the left tunnel in 2004, we plan renovation of the tracks for an identical length in the right tunnel this year.

Special equipment

The set of special equipment consists of the elements of a combined system designed to eliminate any smoke billowing or fire raging in the premises or on trains of the metro line. Key components of the system include:

  • Main ventilation system
  • Jet-type fans
  • Water-fog fire extinguishers
  • A network of fire water supply

Fresh air is supplied to the stations by the main ventilation system via the ascending ventilation shafts of the stations and tunnels. The emergency heat dissipation and smoke off-take ducts ensure smoke-free escape routes and support the fire brigades’ efficient work.

The existing system has efficiently supported the normal ventilation tasks, however, it had never been designed to ensure heat dissipation or smoke discharge. Eighteen fans ensured ventilation via 13 structures (one in each station and four along the tunnels). Following the reconstruction, two machines will be installed in each main ventilation shaft. The jet-fans are designed to eliminate smoke from the inclined shafts and to ensure safety of the escape routes by supplying fresh pressurised air to the deep stations.

The set of high-pressure water-fog fire extinguishing equipment ensures fire protection in the deep stations and at the level of passenger tunnels. The equipment will be installed below the platforms of the deep stations, in the cable tunnels, in the space below the escalators leading to the deep stations and in the control rooms and spaces at the level of passenger tunnels.

The fire-water supply network will deliver water needed to put out any fire in the tunnels. Until recently, a so-called emergency water supply network was used for this purpose, but a completely new fire-water network will be built in the frame of the planned reconstruction.

In the Spring of 2005, the Blaha Lujza Square station was completed as the first reference facility suitable for representing the installation know-how applicable to the special engineering equipment.

Moving stairs and elevators

During a project that was started in 2004 to reconstruct the moving stairs, initial steps were taken to replace the stairs operated at both ends of the connecting corridor of the Deák Square station. Since then, the number of moving stairs increased from seven to eight because four new stairs were installed in the East-West inclined shaft to increase the capacity of the former three stairs. In addition, six moving stairs of small travel height will be incorporated in the Stadiums Station where no moving stairs had been operated.

Each station will be equipped with elevators. Since the existing architectural design ties the hands of the architects and builders in many respects, most of the stations will be equipped with two pairs of elevators connected by a corridor, with the exception of a few stations where the surface can be reached directly via the elevators. At present, the tender procedure regarding the structural implementation of four elevators is in process.

Power supply

The reconstruction project comprises many components of the metro line’s power supply system, e.g. the 10kV medium voltage network, an 825V DC network for the traction/towing services and a 3x 400/230V low voltage auxiliary network.

The reconstruction project will ensure replacement of the circuit breakers, instrument transformers and all the protection and automation components of the cells of the stations’ 10kV switching equipment.

Within the 825V DC network supplying power to the traction/towing services, the breaking cells feeding the positive distribution equipment will be equipped with advanced short-circuit testing devices and devices designed to monitor the current rate of rise (di/dt). The main distributors currently operating within the 0.4kV auxiliary network will be replaced by advanced draw-out units of modular design whose capacity can, if necessary, be flexibly expanded when the circumstances so require.

Each station will be equipped with automatic phase equalisers. Simultaneously, all distributors that belong to the power transmission and space lighting network will be replaced.

Owing to the importance of fire protection, the 10kV and 0.4kV cables will be replaced by flameproof cables or alternatively existing ones provided with fire-retardant coating.

Obviously, the system feeding the remote control and monitoring system of the entire line and supporting the stations’ local protection and automation system will be reconstructed. Concurrently with the architectural restructuring, the space lighting of the station platforms, tunnels and tunnel structures will be improved, including the installation of advanced, energy-conserving and aesthetic lighting fixtures protected from polluting substances and providing enhanced illumination efficiency.

Comprehensive reconstruction of the power and energy supply network of the two ‘main protagonists’ of the reconstruction program (Blaha Lujza Sq. and Kossuth Lajos Sq.) initiated in 2004 was recently completed.

Safety equipment and train control

All the safety equipment that represented technical sophistication in the 1970s will be replaced in the frame of the East-West Line’s reconstruction. Both the design and the quality of service of the new equipment must meet 21st Century standards, including the fully automated traffic management technology. For example, planning and management of – and accounting for – the system performance and identification of maintenance tasks. The system selected according to this approach will guarantee integral safety and security of the traffic of trains and ensure availability of the necessary capacity, now and in the future.

The following units will be considered as indispensable elements of the single and uniform traffic management system: the block installation supported by electronic or IT-based devices to be installed along the line or in the vehicle yard, the ATO/ATP train control system that closely cooperates with the above mentioned block installation system, the GUIs and the system’s control centre capable of intervening in the operation of the safety/security equipment and the train control system.

The line will be controlled by highly reliable single-centre traffic control equipment that is capable of controlling traffic throughout the entire line, operating the highly automated systems and managing traffic in accordance with train schedules. The central traffic control workstation will be equipped with electronic devices that ensure surveying of the entire line and utilisation of a user interface of outstanding safety.

Safety mechanisms capable of adjusting and controlling routes dedicated to towing operations within the premises of the vehicle yard will be installed. The traffic control centre of the East-West line will be accommodated in the Dispatcher Centre (Kálvin Sq.) leaving the task of controlling the vehicle yard’s traffic to the Fehér Road site.

In contrast to the present situation, the trial track will serve dual purposes following the reconstruction: it will receive passenger trains withdrawn from traffic at the Pillangó Street and will continue to meet the function of trial track, supplemented by the possibility of testing the new train control equipment (in case of trains equipped with on-board safety equipment).

Railway telecommunication

All elements of the communication and passenger information system operated for more than 30 years will be replaced by new ones in order to support reliable connection among the traffic control dispatchers and the subordinated functional areas and to ensure availability of advanced means of communication.

The following key functions are to be supported:

  • Video system: video cameras will scan areas used by the passengers, from the entrance down to the platforms.
  • Distress call system: dual-mode distress call devices will be installed to provide efficient voice connection in both directions.
  • Loudspeaker system: a loudspeaker system will keep passengers informed in each station.
  • Safety system for monitoring the end sections and footpath of the platforms: since the edge of stations’ platform is open/unprotected, passengers approaching the platform edge in disregard for the safety rules must be observed and the service staff shall be warned.
  • System for the observation and operation of moving stairs: the moving stairs can be stopped by hitting either emergency stop button. The service staff will be warned in the case of an emergency and the picture recorded by the nearest camera displayed in both the control centre and the station concerned.
  • Ticket dispensing and validation system: service staff will regularly check the operation of the ticket dispensing equipment and validation devices installed in the station.
  • Fire alarm system: the stations will be equipped with smoke detectors and manually operated signaling devices; the signals will be received by the station’s fire alarm system.
  • Operation of the station’s entrance gates: the service staff will open and close the gates at the beginning and the end of the daily operation.

New dispatching panels will be installed to facilitate the work of the station duty officers. These panels will control the operation of the systems/equipment managed by the station’s duty officer and technical supervisor. A Passenger Control Dispatching Centre shall be installed as a new means of controlling communication inside the railway system. In order to ensure safe transmission of the immense volume of information, a new transmission technology based on the use of optical cables shall be installed.

The new information/communication equipment and devices were commissioned in two stations (Blaha Lujza Sq. and Kossuth Lajos Sq.) that have undergone the reconstruction process in 2004: the stations are already controlled via the new communication panels.

Vehicle procurement program

At present, 140 motor coaches of Russian make (Ev, Ev/A, Ev3 and 81.700) are operated along the East-West line. Each train consists of five coaches.

As a result of many months of careful preparation of decision making and pursuant to the resolution adopted by the General Assembly of the Municipality of Budapest, our company is in the position of starting, in the foreseeable future, the procurement of new advanced vehicles featuring improved economy of operation. We expect to begin the two-stage tender procedure preceded by a pre-qualification phase in the second half of 2005.

Once the reconstruction project is complete, the passengers can travel along a completely renewed East-West metro line that meets the safety, technical, comfort and aesthetic requirements of our age as a result of the introduction of new infrastructural facilities.

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