Germany: SPIE is equipping a new section of track for a fully automated underground railway in Nuremberg

Published on 30 April 2024

Nuremberg, 30 April 2024 – SPIE, the independent European leader in multi-technical services in the areas of energy and communications, is equipping a new section of the Nuremberg underground line "U3", including two new train stations and a parking facility, with state-of-the-art electrical technology over a total length of around 3.5 kilometres. Once completed, the new section will extend the line of Germany's first fully automated underground railway. The technology thus fulfils all the prerequisites for the expansion of a pioneering and sustainable mobility service.

Fully automated underground railway

The first underground railway in Nuremberg to run on a sub-network without drivers was introduced in 2008: the trains on two lines are fully automated. "U3" will now be extended by 3.5 kilometres towards the neighbouring district of Fürth in the west, with two more stops, namely Kleinreuth and Gebersdorf. The new route will run beneath the South-West bypass and the Main-Danube Canal. The City Networks & Grids operational division of SPIE Deutschland & Zentraleuropa is equipping the new tunnel sections and stations, as well as the parking facility, with electrical technology that will enable automated driving on this route. As a result, the availability of resource-saving electromobility will grow, and the Nuremberg districts of Kleinreuth bei Schweinau and Gebersdorf as well as Weikershof, which belongs to Fürth, will be added to the transport network. 

SPIE is carrying out the necessary electrical installations on the new section. This includes all electrical work as well as installation, assembly and connection work. In addition to around 1,300 lights, SPIE is also installing the fire alarm systems as well as the network and telecommunications technology. The scope also covers the medium-voltage systems and the uninterruptible power supplies, which guarantee a high level of operational reliability. The installations will comprise around 300 kilometres of cable and around 200 distribution boards.

Contributing to electromobility

SPIE's digitalised technology will lay the infrastructural foundations for fully automated rail travel on this section, which features new stations and a new rail parking facility. The parking facility allows the trains to come to a halt on the line between operations. "The expansion of the underground railway networks is an important development step in terms of mobility alternatives and resource-saving electromobility. Fully automated travel is also a pioneering technology," says Patrick Krausser, Project Manager from the City Networks & Grids operational division at SPIE Deutschland & Zentraleuropa.

The multi-technical service provider won the city of Nuremberg's public tendering process in spring 2023 and commenced initial work on site back in June. A real team effort is needed to ensure that the project will be completed on schedule in autumn 2025. At peak times, as many as 25 SPIE team members are hard at work on the project. "Our client is benefiting from the many years of experience we have in the underground railway sector. Our colleagues have a lot of experience of working underground as well as at night and at weekends," says Jens Ullmann, Technical Branch Manager in the City Networks & Grids operational division at SPIE. Only a team of this calibre can ensure that the five elements of the project are completed on schedule. One particular challenge is the logistics: there is only one location where the materials can be loaded into the tunnel. "We then have to use a telescopic handler to transport it from the storage facility through the tube to the adjacent existing tunnel 3,500 metres away," adds Heiko Reitmaier from the project management team. To ensure that the materials are safely transported through the underground railway tunnel in this way, everyone involved completed a training course on the telescopic handler.

Long-standing partnership with the city of Nuremberg

SPIE has been involved in the emergence and continuing development of the Nuremberg underground railway system since the ground-breaking ceremony in the mid-1970s. Since then, the multi-technical service provider has handled the majority of the projects and can therefore draw on expertise that will also be put to good use in the current project: "The city of Nuremberg and SPIE always carry out these joint projects with the highest mutual quality standards. We work together in a professional and collaborative manner, and experience has shown that this leads to great results," says Peter Pfannenstiel, Head of the City Networks & Grids operational division at SPIE Deutschland & Zentraleuropa.