The Brescia Subway

The Brescia Subway

Brescia subway is a fully automatic driverless light metro connecting Brescia northern area to the southeastern neighborhoods and passing through the town center. It is driven by means of a fully automatic system.  

1986 - 1987 Preliminary and feasibility studies, analysis of costs and implementation methods and of the financial coverage, and confirmation of the project technical-economic validity for the light automatic underground - line 1.

Conference held by the Municipality of Brescia titled: "Metrobus for the city of the nineties".

Drafting Technical specifications and the special Tender specifications.

1988 - 1991 Tender amongst five consortia of internationally qualified companies with the delivery of projects for technical adequacy analysis.

Completion, by a special Commission, of the technical evaluation of the projects received and choice of the two projects allowed to the economic quotation stage phase.

1992 - 1995 Signing of a memorandum of agreement with the institutions concerned with the line extension in Valtrompia.

Submission of the request of a state funding under law 211/92.

Assignment of a capital account state contribution from CIPE of 165 billion Lire.

1996 - 1997 Cancellation of the tender due to corporate changes of the two remaining consortia in the tender not compatible with the bid contract legislation and consequent request for an extension to the Ministry of Transport for the presentation of a new project.

Protocol of agreement between the Lombardia Region, Province of Brescia, Municipality of Brescia and ASM for the creation of a rapid transportation system: Light Automatic Underground – 1st functional stretch Concesio-S. Eufemia.

Study Conference held by the Municipality of Brescia on "Public transport in Brescia: comparisons and options" where the choice of a fully automated light underground system is reconfirmed.

Drafting of a new preliminary draft and forwarding of the same to the Superior Council of Public Works to obtain the authorization – which was subsequently granted - to hold a new tender through competitive contract tendering.

1999 – 2000 Deliberation of the CIPE (Comitato Interministeriale per la Programmazione Economica - Interministerial Committee for Economic Planning) that nationally increased the capital account financial subsidies up to a share of 60 % of the originally planned cost, with consequent rising of the financing already granted to the Brescia Metrobus from 165 to 414 billion Lire.

Favorable opinion of the Interministerial Commission 1042/69 on the feasibility of Concesio- S.Eufemia stretch.

Request and achievement of additional funding for the extension of the line toward the future Sanpolino district for 59 billion Lire.

Publication of the international call for the design, implementation, biannual technical management and the seven-year maintenance of the works and subsequent invitation to make the offer directed to the four teams that qualified for participation.

2001 - 2003 Establishment of Brescia Mobilità that replaced ASM as contracting station.

Examination of suitability by the special tender commission of the offer presented by only one of the invited teams formed by Ansaldo Trasporti Sistemi Ferroviari, Astaldi, AnsaldoBreda and Necso Entrecanales Cubiertas and award of the contract competition to the team itself. The offered transport system is substantially identical to that being completed in Copenhagen.

Environmental Impact Assessment procedure.

Technical-economic adjustment of the winning project of the contract competition based on the results of the VIA and favorable environmental compatibility by the Lombardia Region. The appropriate design involves the construction of the First Functional Batch Prealpino-S.Eufemia.

Approval of the new project and the related costs by the Municipality of Brescia, the Lombardia Region, which confirmed the funding of EUR 72 million, and the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport, which confirmed the state financing of 244 million Euro by unifying the two previous funding granted by CIPE.

Contract with the winner team of the tender and beginning of the work of the Metrobus.

Tender for the Project & Construction Management service (Control of the Project and Works Management) with award of the contract in favor of the team formed by Metropolitana Milanese (MI), Systra (RM) and Cantarelli Moro & Partners (BS). Conclusion of the contract and beginning of P&CM activities.

2004 - 2006 Update of the project in the execution phase with regard to the stations architecture, along the lines of those of the Copenhagen system with optimization of the path.

Inclusion of the Metrobus in the 1st program of strategic infrastructure of prominent national interest of the so-called “Legge Obiettivo”.

Requested and obtained a non-repayable financing, within the meaning of the so-called “Legge Obiettivo”, for an amount of EUR 40 million to cover the greater costs arising from the update of the project above as well as other improvements identified during the executive design.

The project acquired the state financing within the meaning of Law 211/92 on undergrounds (and of objective law 443/01) and regional within the meaning of the Regional Law no. 13, after having been inserted in the planning instruments and having obtained the necessary approvals from the competent bodies. The Municipality of Brescia is the other administration financing of the work. Brescia Mobilità, S.p.A., was the project owner of the work. From 1st January 2012, due to a further demerger, the commissioning of the works shifted to the company Brescia Infrastrutture srl, of the Municipality of Brescia.

The TBM that worked for making the deep tunnel of the city underground fell within the type of cutters called EPB (Earth pressure balance), generally used for excavation of land with no self-supporting features as in the case of the alluvial soils in Brescia.

Its task involved digging the ground causing, through a balance of the excavation volume, a pressure of soil capable of supporting the area itself, and installing the walls consisting of seven prefabricated elements fitted by making a closure ring.

The TBM used in Brescia was about 130 meters long, with a weight of 1300 tons and consisting of a cylindrical shield being 9 meters in diameter and 9 meters in length, followed by a series of service cars, the so-called backup. In the front part, the shield had a 9-meter diameter cutter whose rotation was ensured by 14 hydraulic motors that developed a power of 2,000 kW. The power supply occurred with an average voltage in the tunnel of 15,000 volts.

The machine that worked in Brescia is a product of the German technology, built by Herrenknecht in Schwanau and owned by Astaldi. Herrenknecht and Astaldi worked together with great care and even in the most relevant operating stages the German engineers always guaranteed advice and assistance so as for everything to be well tested and proven.


The TBM in the stations

The TBM did not constantly travel in the dark, in the depths of the city, in its cavities. At varying distances from 500 meters to one kilometer, the TBM met open stations and there the machine could work under the open sky and be visible to the public. In the six intermediate stages, before reaching the target being the Ospedale station, the engineers were thus able to intervene in the ordinary and extraordinary maintenance works.

The first stage was represented by Volta, with "rail level" being 17 meters below; a 20 meter wide huge box, 60 meters long and 22 meters deep. Then Lamarmora came, the station prepared for the "subdivision" in the Fiera direction, where the network path is ready to divide in half having already prepared the route that will be the second and future line.

The third stage along the underground journey of the boring machine took place in Brescia due, 27 meters deep. Then it was the turn of the Railway Station, near the city railway station and located across the railroad tracks with access oriented in the direction of the exit to facilitate passengers.

After "fully" crossing the central stations of Vittoria and San Faustino, due to the events related to the finding of the foundations of a medieval tower and the ancient Venetian walls, it was then the turn of Marconi and the Stazione Ospedale, the last stage before reaching, just a bit further ahead, the extraction well.

The times of translation in the stations where the "void" stages took place varied in relation to the need to carry out regular and especially extraordinary maintenance to the TBM itself. There were stations where the translation occurred in 20/30 days, others that took 40/50 days.


Brief history of the journey

The TBM began operating on 6th December 2005, when started off inside the inlet pit. About four months later, on 26th April reached the Volta station and started again on 19th June. On 22nd January 2007 entered the Lamarmora station, back from the chasm that opened in August and that required several weeks for servicing. From Lamarmora it started again on 21st March, with Bresciadue direction that reached on 28th May to start again on 28th June. On 25th September, the milling cutter disk showed in the pit of the Railway Station, the last stop before facing the path of the historic centre undertaken since 16th November. It reached Vittoria on 5th February 2008 and crossed S.Agata any without problem, assisted the Loggia and crossed the finish line of San Faustino on 9th July. It started from there on 1st September reaching Marconi on 20 October to start again on 26th November. On 16th February 2009 it reached the last station before the Civil Hospital to travel the last 200 meters toward the extraction pit.

The underground is fully automated and is completely safe thanks to a sophisticated control system consisting of electronic equipment distributed along the line, in stations, on trains and at the Posto Centrale Operativo (PCO - Central Operational Place) of S. Eufemia/Buffalora where deposit, workshop and offices are located. Within the PCO, which represents the real "core" of the system, are the main computers and the various control and telecommunication equipment which manage the line. For the supervision of the system, the PCO comprises a main control room (an emergency room is also provided for in case of unavailability of the main one) where simultaneously work up to four operators (during peak hours). By employing the equipment and terminals of the PCO, the operators can have the continuous and complete control of the system condition as a whole.

Furthermore, being the PCO operators and the staff working along the line always in contact, this allows to quickly make any type of intervention, both on the plants, in order to maintain the perfect functionality, and to provide the assistance necessary to passengers. Being the system designed to operate fully automatically, i.e. without driver or other permanent staff on the trains, the plants have remarkable reliability and availability characteristics regarding safety and continuity of operation. The status of the equipment on the trains and of the equipment on the ground is detected remotely and constantly with the "real time" verification of the efficiency of all basic features.

The automated and centralized management of the running of trains, not being influenced by the actual availability of driving personnel (the PCO staff is sufficient as they are always present 24/7), allows to obtain significant benefits compared to manual or semiautomatic drive traditional underground systems (with assistant on board that provides to the closing of the doors of the train and the departure of the same).

The frequency of passages, the number of trains running, speed and halt times at the stations may be automatically varied, at any time, to meet the changes in the demand for transport, also not predictable. The flexibility concerns of course also the daily duration of the service that can be fully modulated in relation to special needs (holidays, events, etc.). The automation system also allows a smooth and rational transition between one running schedule and another (e.g., from the peak time service to that of the less busy hours). Also, in the event of a disturbance to the service which would cause delays in a sector of the line, the system is capable of repositioning the trains as evenly as possible to maintain an acceptable frequency until the end of the disturbance.

The integrated automation of the running of trains allows to provide a good quality service even in the less busy hours, in the evening hours and on weekends and holidays, with interesting waiting times for the users and with low costs (substantially only for the power sources). Waiting times of 4-6 minutes during non-busy hours and of 7-10 minutes in the evening hours and on weekends and holidays are forecast for the underground. During peak hours, the traditional "scheduled" service is in fact replaced by a revolutionary "frequency" service. Train frequencies with intervals of up to 90 seconds will be achieved with the underground.

In accordance with the functional and aesthetic consistency objectives, two main types of underground station were designed in Brescia: deep-level and semi-underground ones. The deep-level station, having the platform level 22 meters below street level (the so-called zero level) is a type of station that repeats, with small modifications, in Casazza, Ospedale, Marconi, Stazione FS, Bresciadue and Volta. The semi-underground station, having the platform level 7 meters below street level, is repeated for Prealpino, Mompiano, Europa and San Polo. In these stations the basic principles of the project are all met. This result was achieved thanks to the competence of Cremonesi Workshop and technological-constructive know-how used by the construction company of civil works: Astaldi S.p.A.

The deep-level station is undoubtedly the most complex and the most significant one. In order to bring the natural light on the platform and visually communicate with the zero level the first problem to be solved was emptying the space above the platform, which was an obstacle to the set design specifications. It was therefore decided to divide the volume of the station in two asymmetric parts, one for access of the public, the other for the systems. In order to define these two features is an inclined wall located on one side to support the ceiling and the intermediate floors of the system area and, on the other hand, to define the station as a single volume, sometimes dilated and sometimes compressed, crossed only by light gangways and escalators. The continuation toward the outside of this wall also allowed to create some skylights able to penetrate the natural light to the platforms. Form, function and technique were thus solved by a single structural aspect that by defining the architecture of the station, evenly organized its space.

The material selection criteria

The choice of having stations that are all the same, aimed at giving strong uniformity to the whole project, led to design the same finishes for all the stations. The criteria used in the selection of materials to be used in the stations and in complementary items had technological and performance reasons (highly efficient materials in terms of durability, strength, health and curability) and aesthetic, perceptual and of environmental comfort reasons (materials suitable for projects with articulated geometries, from colours and diverse morphologies and able to provide an excellent real and perceived environmental quality. The synthesis was represented by the choice of four main materials: natural stone, porcelain stonewear, metal and glass.

The areas accessible by users, the floor and some surfaces and items are in diorite. It is a natural stone halfway in the family of granite and gabbro. It has excellent characteristics of strength, durability and serviceability and is specifically indicated in city contexts and infrastructures where critical conditions occur from the point of wear and safety. Suitably machined to the surface, it is shown to the user already at the exit facilities and of connection between the city surface level and the hypogeal spaces of the underground offer. In this context, the stone features the cladding of external parapets and partially of the vertical walls of escalators and fixed stairs. The flights of stairs are also diorite-cladded, both at the tread and the riser.

Interaction between background noise and signal

The conformation of the volume of the station emphasizes two dominant elements: the vertical façade and the surface of the inclined wall. The first, in porcelain stoneware in grey/light blue shades, dig the space in the soil thus creating the "box". The second, panelled with electrocoloured stainless steel reflective panels, with its diagonal "remarking" profile, is on one side the bearing item of the overhead ceiling, and on the other hand "measures" the emptiness of the inside space by expanding and contracting it. To these two elements the horizontal surface of the floor is then added, to a lesser extent as quantity, but equal as perceptual impact. From the colour point, amongst these three items, the "background noise" derives, for quantity reasons, from the vertical facades.

The vehicle of the Brescia underground is driverless: its movement along the line and its control take place automatically and without the need for a driver on board. The traction unit (as the train is called in a technical jargon) Metrobus Brescia, vehicle for the metropolitan transport in its own track, is of the bidirectional type. It thus moves in both travelling directions with identical performance.

The unit consists of three individual elements (boxes) permanently connected by special joints, six doors per each side and is equipped with four carriages, three motorised and a pulling one. Driving is fully automatic, with no need for staff on board; therefore, the vehicle has no driving cab. Two large windscreens are placed at both ends of the train set, where two manoeuvre control panels are located, protected by a suitable locked cover for manual driving, to be used in case of faults or emergency.

The train weighs over 56 tons, reaches a maximum length of 39 meters and a height of 3 meters and a half. It is 2.65 meters wide and consists of 72 seats plus 2 locations for wheelchairs. The standing places are 351. It reaches a maximum speed of 80 km/h, while the highest speed allowed in manual mode is 15 km/h. The greatest allowed gradeability is 6%. The exceptional load used for the calculation of performance and the maximum weight per axle and for the dimensioning of carriages and body is over 88 tonnes (weight reached with all the seats taken and six passengers per sq. m).

The vehicle is powered by 750-volt direct current through a third rail system with bottom socket. It is here that the power collectors fixed to the sides of all four carriages run. The equipment for traction, braking and auxiliary are placed in the underbody of the vehicle, to improve the weight distribution and to facilitate maintenance. Only the air conditioning units, inductors and braking rheostats are placed on the roof, to ensure their adequate ventilation.

The information system allows the transmission of text and audio messages to passengers. This is to support communications in terms of service or emergency. The various capabilities are implemented through a set of devices. Those defined as interconnection guarantee bidirectional audio communication between the operator of the central station and the passengers; this means that passengers also can call the PCO (Central Operational Place) operators and speak with them. A PCO operator can also carry out the environment listening of an area on a train.

A PCO operator can broadcast live or pre-recorded messages to the passengers of one or more trains. Pre-recorded audio messages can also be activated by the ATC (automatic train control) or, directly, by an operator on the train. Two-way audio communications can occur, in emergency situations, between PCO operator and a possible operator on the train, or between two operators on the train positioned on two connected trains.

A video surveillance system is active on the train (which is responsible for sending "live" images to the PCO operator) equipped with a recorder system capable of ensuring the video recording of the inside of the vehicle. The trainsets are designed to be able to ensure the display on indication panels, of live messages sent by a PCO operator or pre-recorded and activated by the ATC on the train. The communication is also active between the train automatic driving systems and the PCO, as well as active is the data collection of diagnostics of onboard equipment.

Each carriage end is equipped with an area suitable for the transport of passengers with disabilities who use a wheelchair and is located on the side of the vehicle, in a longitudinal position, since it allows a more secure anchorage and better manoeuvring. The passenger can make a complete rotation so as to approach his/her shoulders to the back support structure of the wheelchair. The area is integrated with vertical handrails and a seat belt. The area is identified by suitable plates that also illustrate the fixing methods of the wheelchair.

Anyone who may find themselves in difficulties can communicate with the control station, in case being alone and in need. The train is equipped with a button that allows to immediately communicate with the operator of the operating centre.

The creative journey undertaken in the design process of the Brescia train has been as close as possible to that adopted for the creation of the lines and the shapes of the Copenhagen train. The study made by Giugiaro Design, one of the most prestigious international brands for industrial design, can still be considered extremely modern and can be defined elegant and "neat" in the lines and in the model. For this reason it was used and adapted to the new structure being the outside practically the same.

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