Norway builds Europe’s most modern railway: Bane NOR goes digital for 20 billion

Over the course of a decade, a 20 billion Norwegian kroner investment will make Norway the European leader of railway digitalisation and modernisation. Bane NOR signed one of the country’s largest tech contracts with Siemens on April 6th, worth 7.5 billion.

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With the contract: Gorm Frimannslund (left) and CEO Mobility from Siemens, Michael Peter. (Photo: Thor Erik Skarpen)

A new digital signalling system for train traffic is being developed. This means that signals are conveyed through new IT equipment in the trains, and no longer via the analog light signals along the tracks we have today. A new digital system for the management of train traffic will also be a part of the modernisation. The system will also make automated trains a possibility.

In addition to the contract with Siemens, Bane NOR recently awarded system contracts for approximately 2.5 billion to Thales and Alstom.

- You should be proud

“This is one of the largest tech contracts in Norway, and it’s for the railway. I am proud of this, and all of you should also be proud,” said Minister of Transport and Communications Ketil Solvik-Olsen to the many Bane NOR employees present for the signing of the Siemens contract.

“We are experiencing an increase in train passengers, and ERTMS will lead to even more being able to trust the railway as a reliable mode of transportation”, said Solvik-Olsen.

“The need for revitalisation is the force behind the ERTMS project.  Today’s system is built on relay technology that was modern during the war, the First World War. The equipment was installed from the 1950s and beyond. Replacement parts and knowledge about these systems are almost depleted. We have a total of 336 sites and more than 15 different systems, something that ERTMS should be able to replace with a single data room”, said Executive Vice President Sverre Kjenne, leader of Digitalisation and Technology, Bane NOR.

“ERTMS will, among other things, give us increased security through technical barriers and continual supervision of all trains, increased punctuality due to fewer errors and automatic handling of deviations, and increased capacity over time with automated driving of trains and dynamic distancing of trains”, continued Kjenne.

New digital signalling system - Siemens

Now the signalling system is digital.  The signals are no longer attached to poles on the side of the tracks, and moved to computer screens aboard the trains.  Every rail station in the country and every single train will be affected by this change. It is a challenge to handle and maintain multiple and aging signalling systems that date from all the way back to the 1950s.  Components are outdated and difficult to replace. The new system will be put into place in just over ten years.

Digital train traffic management - Thales

The contract for the development of the remote management system TMS (Traffic Management System) is work approximately 600 million kroner.  The system should provide more reliable and accurate management of the traffic and is an important step in the entire modernization of the railway.

IT equipment on the trains - Alstom

The contract for the onboard retrofit has been awarded to Alstom and work approximately 20 billion kroner this contract delivers ERTMS equipment for trains, locomotives, and work machines.  The solution will replace the current control system in trains owned by fourteen different rail companies.

The contracts are coordinated by Bane NOR on behalf of participating rail vehicle companies.  The delivery includes system development, design and retrofitting of approximately 400 vehicles owned by Norske Tog, Cargonet, Flytoget, Bane NOR among others.  The fourteen companies will now enter into independent contract with Alstom for ERTMS delivery specific to their types of vehicle.

Investing 20 billion over 10 years

The investment is a significant and important step in the Norwegian rail revolution.  Bane NOR will over the course of a decade, invest more than 20 billion kroner in the digitalization and automation of the railway.  This will be done through Bane NOR’s implementation of ERTMS (European Rail Traffic Management System), and Norway will be a leader in the use of digital technology in the rail industry. 

ERTMS is the European standard for train management.  This standard simplifies the infrastructure by moving signals from the side of the tracks and into the trains themselves through continuous communication with the central computers.  A train with ERTMS should be able to ride on every single train line in Europe that is built according to this standard. The retrofitting of trains could also make automatic driving of trains a possibility in the future.

For more information: 
Chief of Communications Bård Bjerkaker, telephone 900 67 007.