Pole po­si­tion

PAUL STEPHEN trav­els to Poland, to see Al­stom’s pro­duc­tion line hard at work pro­duc­ing 69 two-car Me­trop­o­lis units for Riyadh’s metro

Rail (UK) - - Feature Operations - RAIL pho­tog­ra­phy: PAUL STEPHEN

The light rail or metro mar­ket is a rapidly grow­ing sec­tor, driven by ram­pant ur­ban­i­sa­tion across the globe that is ex­pected to re­sult in 70% of the world’s pop­u­la­tion liv­ing in cities by 2050.

Al­stom is just one of the global play­ers serv­ing this mar­ket, with 55 cus­tomers world­wide (in­clud­ing here in the UK).

Its foot­print could in­crease fur­ther within these shores, should it win the con­tract to de­liver 250 new Tube trains for the Pic­cadilly, Bak­er­loo, Cen­tral and Water­loo & City lines un­der the Deep Tube Up­grade pro­gramme. The con­tract is due to be awarded this au­tumn.

In the mean­time, Al­stom in­vited RAIL to visit its Pol­ish man­u­fac­tur­ing site in Ka­tow­ice. Here the com­pany is busy de­liv­er­ing an ex­ten­sive or­der book that in­cludes 79 re­gional trains for the Nether­lands, 570 Co­ra­dia Lint bodyshells for DB in Ger­many, 50 five-car Me­trop­o­lis train sets for Dubai, and 69 twocar Me­trop­o­lis train­sets for Riyadh (Saudi Ara­bia).

Launched in 1998, the Me­trop­o­lis is Al­stom’s cus­tomis­able metro so­lu­tion, avail­able in stain­less steel and alu­minium, two-cars to six, with or with­out a driver, mixed seat­ing ar­range­ments, and many other in­te­rior or ex­ter­nal ar­range­ments.

Al­stom is also a key part­ner of the Riyadh metro, cur­rently un­der con­struc­tion and which will be 109 miles in length with 85 sta­tions across six lines when open in 2018.

And it is badly needed in a city pre­dicted to ex­pand from 5.7 mil­lion to­day to 8.3 mil­lion by 2030, and where 90% of trips are cur­rently made by car.

In 2013, the Ar­riyadh De­vel­op­ment Author­ity awarded con­tracts to three dif­fer­ent in­ter­na­tional con­sor­tia for the vast con­struc­tion project, in­clud­ing the FAST con­sor­tium of which Al­stom is a part.

Al­stom will be sup­ply­ing track lay­ing tech­nol­ogy, sig­nalling and en­ergy re­cov­ery sys­tems, in ad­di­tion to 69 of its Me­trop­o­lis train­sets.

Al­stom opted to base its Riyadh pro­duc­tion line at Ka­tow­ice be­cause of its track record for de­liv­er­ing large quan­ti­ties of Me­trop­o­lis units to other cities in­clud­ing Bu­dapest and Am­s­ter­dam, and its sta­tus as the com­pany’s cen­tre of ex­cel­lence for pro­duc­ing the alu­minium and stain­less steel car bodyshells re­quired.

At the time of RAIL’s visit on Fe­bru­ary 7, five train­sets had been com­pleted from the or­der, with one al­ready shipped by sea from Ham­burg to Saudi Ara­bia, one in Vienna un­der­go­ing tem­per­a­ture test­ing, two sent for val­i­da­tion in France, and one in the com­mis­sion­ing shed at Ka­tow­ice ready for static and dy­namic test­ing on the fac­tory’s 1,500-me­tre-long ded­i­cated test track.

Here RAIL presents images from each stage of pro­duc­tion, in­clud­ing weld­ing and as­sem­bly. Once at full pro­duc­tion, out­put at Ka­tow­ice will be ten cars (five train­sets) per month.

The bodyshells are raised onto mez­za­nine level in the as­sem­bly hall, for bo­gies and other un­der­floor com­po­nents to be fit­ted. An al­most com­plete train­set is on the right and will shortly go to the paint­ing shop, where RAIL was asked not to take pic­tures due to the com­mer­cial sen­si­tiv­ity of other train­sets be­ing present for other cus­tomers. The fin­ished Me­trop­o­lis is 36 me­tres long, with a painted stripe to in­di­cate for which of Riyadh metro’s six lines it is des­tined. This train­set had been trans­ferred to the com­mis­sion­ing shed two days ear­lier, prior to spend­ing two weeks on the test track. It was then sched­uled to be trans­ported to Ham­burg by road, and then shipped to Saudi Ara­bia in mid-March.

5. In the as­sem­bly hall, roof mo­d­ules have door rollers, light­ing, air-con­di­tion­ing units and other wiring fit­ted at ground level (much safer and ef­fi­cient for work­ers than work­ing at height and in­stalling them in situ).

3. Un­der­frames for the Me­trop­o­lis units are welded us­ing an au­to­mated process.

2. Alu­minium sheets ar­rive from China in pre-formed units, to be welded to­gether at Ka­tow­ice.

6. Win­dows are added to side­wall mo­d­ules and low-volt­age test­ing is con­ducted at sep­a­rate pre-fit­ting sta­tions, be­fore the full bodyshells are erected. This bodyshell awaits the in­stal­la­tion of its front cab win­dow, bo­gies, in­te­rior fea­tures, trac­tion and other driv­ing sys­tems.

Each two-car Me­trop­o­lis will be able to ac­com­mo­date 231 pas­sen­gers, and fea­tures three classes: first, fam­ily and sin­gle class, sep­a­rated by a glass par­ti­tion.

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