PEOPLE | Nov 15, 2019

A driverless subway for Copenhagen: an interview with Carmine Rossin

Which digital technologies are used in the construction of the new Copenhagen metro line and what are the benefits for citizens?

More than 15 km of zero-emission subway line, 17 underground stations, 5 tunnel shafts, a train every 2 minutes and 70 million users. These are some of the numbers that distinguish the new driverless Cityringen line 3, which connects the historic center of Copenhagen with the districts of Vesterbro, Nørrebro and Østerbro, and which bears the signature of an all-Italian team. The manufacturers, in fact, include Salini Impregilo, Hitachi RAIL Sts, ex Ansaldo Sts, Leonardo Spa and Engineering.

“The inauguration of the driverless Cityringen Metro in Copenhagen – says Carmine Rossin, Head of Transportation&Infrastructure Business Unit of Engineering – is for us a further step in the important specialization path that we have made in recent years in the field of infrastructures and, in particular, of transport. We are now taking all supervisory and control systems, as well as emergency management, to a new level with technologies such as Digital Twin, which allows ordinary and emergency scenarios to be simulated on a digital copy of the infrastructure. In an increasingly complex world, risk factors are multiplying exponentially, so it is crucial to have instruments and systems which allow these to be identified and managed immediately, even before they actually occur”.

What technological aspects did you take care of for Copenhagen?

“Through a single automated system, we managed and supervised the technological systems which control the vertical lifts (escalators and elevators), the technological systems for lighting the buildings, tunnels and common areas, for managing the groundwater drainage pumps, air conditioning, ventilation systems in case of emergency and other systems useful to deal with any emergency. In practice, all the operational aspects of the subway. In order to create our solutions, we handled the lab simulation test phases, with consequent validation of the software and architecture according to the SIL1 safety standards outlined by the EN50128 standards, which allows implementing other possible emergency scenarios linked to any problems with the subway carriages, such as a fire both along the route and at the station. Furthermore, we implemented the monitoring and control systems, integrating the most advanced enabling technologies with excellent results and also working alongside major contractors such as Salini. We are convinced that in the infrastructure sector our Italian skills can make a difference even in international projects”.

What are the benefits of the project?

“In addition to improving safety, which is possible thanks to the simulation of emergency scenarios, the use of digital technologies allows the operator to control the state of the infrastructure in terms of traffic flow too, as well as to inform users in a timely and effective manner about any significant circumstances which may turn into risk situations. Cooperative driver assistance and positioning systems on board the vehicles make all this possible. Mobility plays a fundamental role both for the economy and for people’s lives and we work on a daily basis to offer increasingly innovative and evolved solutions to improve the quality and safety of the time spent in commuting activities, both for work and for leisure”.

What other “smart subway” projects besides Copenhagen?

“The know-how expressed in the driverless Cityringen only partially shows the skills that our teams of specialists display every day in other subway construction and management projects around the world: Milan, Birmingham, Brussels and Thessaloniki in Europe, Baltimore in the United States, Rio de Janeiro and Lima in Latin America and Riyadh in Saudi Arabia. The history of each of these projects is part of the important specialization path which we have followed in recent years in the field of mass public transport systems”.

What will future developments be? What is the value of data in setting up a project like this?

“Our history and our strong position in the industry allow us to offer unique experience and value to users, combining knowledge of a wide range of innovative technologies, a proven expertise in project management, a strong core process expertise, as well as highly reliable IT infrastructures and powerful software applications.

Our mission is to manage and monetize the data collected from infrastructures, transport and mobility vehicles and from users to provide industry stakeholders with the tools they need to achieve integrated, secure and reliable mobility services, exploiting existing data and enabling them to offer value-added services.

We therefore want to enhance the existing infrastructural heritage by introducing enabling technologies to maximize performance and improve the security of the infrastructures themselves. We want to make the contribution of new technologies tangible in giving value to data and information to allow an improved management, a faster development of both the infrastructures and of the methods of transport of goods, vehicles and people, all within the perspective of sustainability and of improving the quality of life of citizens. We wish to “continue this journey”, which takes our transport expertise around the world, continuing to affirm our role as an international technology partner alongside our customers in order to provide them with new services, based on new technologies.

The in-depth knowledge we have of the core processes of this market, the ability to create technology added to new technologies require us to steer this digital transformation which entails enhancing existing systems and enriching data. The “smart” concept for infrastructure, transportation and mobility fits perfectly into what will be the systems of the future in Augmented Cities, capable that is, of combining innovation, environment and quality of life”.