New metro for the next century


Budapest’s M4 metro project has finally been completed after many years of difficulties; Siemens is among the handful of companies that were instrumental in the project. Jürgen Brandes, Chief Executive Officer of Business Unit Rail Automation at Siemens AG, Infrastructure & Cities Sector, talked about the experiences of the venture and the specialties of this brand new addition to Budapest’s public transport.

M4 has been a long awaited and important project for Hungary. How does it fit into the Hungarian portfolio of Siemens?

Siemens has always been in the forefront of Hungarian industrial and transportation development, since 1887. The company introduced the first electric tramline in Budapest and the first underground railway on the European mainland.

Following countless further automation, signaling, rail electrification and rolling stock projects, the M4 project is the result of a decade-long planning process, connecting the southern boroughs of Buda with the center of Pest, the important railway stations of Kelenföld and Keleti pályaudvar, many traffic junctions, and transporting tens of thousands of people daily, all coming to fruition with the involvement, technology, and know-how of Siemens. Strong performance, on time delivery, and various Siemens’ innovations raises the project to being among the most sophisticated the company has delivered in this technology area.

What are the specialties of the Budapest M4 line from the Siemens point of view?

The scope of the project is the installation and commissioning of the power supply system, the signaling system including platform protection, the CBTC train control system including an Automatic Train Supervision system and the various communication systems on the line, including the depot area located besides Kelenföld terminus. Among the specialties of the project are of course the high degree of automation of train operations and the entire system. Even train operations in the depot area, for example, are designed to be driverless. In the stations and along the line, highly integrated communication, information and dispatcher systems have been installed, which can be controlled locally in the stations as well as from the line’s control center. Another example is energy efficiency (e.g. the installed power supply system supports recuperation from train sets, which is theoretically able to reach 40% energy saving).

What are the most important safety measures?

The main safety related systems that control, protect and monitor safe train operation are the Signaling System based on our SICAS interlocking technology and the Automatic Train Control and Automatic Train Protection systems, as the core functionality of the CBTC system. Part of the signaling system is also PPE (radar-based passenger protection equipment). If a passenger falls from the platform onto the tracks, PPE detects the accident and cuts the power supply before the incoming train arrives.

Furthermore, in the power supply technology, all ten stations have been installed with a unique 10kV fire retardant and resistant cable, which fulfils the strict fire safety requirements on the M4 line. Switchgear cells were also designed with a fortified frame to protect the operators in case of any malfunction leading to an explosion inside the cells.


Other European cities have already run the driverless Metro – what have been the experiences?

For the first time in Hungary and in Central and Eastern Europe, driverless train sets will be operated along the M4 by CBTC-based automated train control, assisted by other Siemens-built systems. Metro lines with Siemens driverless automation technology have been operating successfully around the world since 2008. Siemens has supplied, among others, Paris, Barcelona, Algiers, Nuremberg and Sao Paolo with automatic train control systems. These projects made the metros safer, more energy efficient, and also faster. Metros with our CBTC systems transport millions of people every day globally. We get orders to supply existing and brand new metro lines with our technology; this assures us that our technology can help people to live a better life through providing state of the art public transportation.


Siemens is deeply engaged in urban transportation; where do you see the future? From where might the next innovation come?

Cities grow all around the world. Day by day, ever more people choose to live urban lives, and they want to do so happily, balanced, and successfully. In order to meet these expectations, we need a city that is sustainable, smart, mobile, optimally integrated and with a transportation system that can meet the high-quality expectations of millions of people.

This is achievable only through better traffic management systems, high capacity and state-of-the-art metro rail systems, and other urban transportation networks that function in accordance with the lives of the people using them.

Smart cities are the future, where integrated technologies enable people and goods to be transported in an efficient, safe and environmentally friendly way. Part of this technology is already in our hands: our intelligent traffic information and management systems – of which more than 1,000 have either been built or are in planning around the world – can cut traffic jams and road accidents, and just as importantly, can slash carbon dioxide emissions by up to 20%, but we need to continue developing and perfecting technologies that will enable us to live a life where no traffic related problems bother us.


Jürgen Brandes studied electrical engineering at the Leibniz University of Hanover, Germany. He also holds a PhD from the same university. He joined Siemens in 1989 and held a variety of positions over the years until he was appointed to his current role in 2012.

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