WORK has started on the first section of Line U5 in Hamburg, following a groundbreaking ceremony at the site of a shaft that will be built to launch the first tunnel boring machine on the 5.8km route from Bramfeld to City Nord.

There will be new stations at Bramfeld, Steilshoop and Barmbek Nord - where construction will start in 2024 - and at City Nord. The first section of Line U5 will also serve the existing station at Sengelmannstraße on Line U1, which will be modified to provide interchange between the two routes.

The first section of Line U5 is expected to carry 20,000 passengers a day and will bring the metro to areas of Hamburg currently only served by buses.

From City North, Line U5 will run southwards via Jarrestraße and Uhlenhorst to the city centre where it will serve Hamburg’s principal railway station. The route then runs northwards and then to the west to terminate at Arenen Volkspark, serving Universität and UKE on the way.

Line U5 will have a total of 23 new stations, with seven providing interchange with other metro or S-Bahn routes. According to metro operator Hamburger Hochbahn, it is Germany's largest inner-city transport project and will connect 180,000 residents to the metro for the first time.

Line U5 is expected to carry 270,000 passengers a day when fully completed in the late 2030s.

Planning for all the remaining sections of the new line is underway with the aim of starting construction towards the city centre at several locations from the mid-2020s. This will also enable new sections of the route to be commissioned as they are completed.

Map: Hamburger Hochbahn

Line U5 will be Germany’s first fully automated metro line with trains operating every 90 seconds, according to Hamburger Hochbahn CEO, Mr Henrik Falk.

Testing will start at the end of 2027 between Sengelmannstrasse and City Nord, as it combines tunnel and surface sections and offers ideal conditions for testing automatic operation.

A fleet of 14 driverless trains will be required for the commissioning of the first section of Line U5 from Bramfeld and City Nord, and will form part of the next generation of Hamburger Hochbahn rolling stock.

The metro operator has called tenders for the supply of its new DT6 train under a framework agreement including an initial firm order for 48 trains.

The four-car DT6 train will be 40m long and fully accessible, with cars that are 2.7m wide, 10cm wider than existing rolling stock.

The framework will cover the supply of two variants, the DT6-F equipped with cabs for operation on the existing network and the DT6-A without cabs for fully automatic operation.

Hamburger Hochbahn is looking to order up to 250 DT6-F trains, comprising 190 to replace its current fleet of 126 DT4 trains and 60 to serve planned network extensions. In the long term, it plans to order 120 DT6-A trains.

Hamburger Hochbahn says that sustainability will have major importance when evaluating bids, alongside price and technical performance. This will include train weight, energy consumption and supply chains, and the recycling rate for the new fleet should be a minimum of 94%.

The DT6 tender also covers the supply of a CBTC-based operations management system for the fully automated Line U5. This will control train operations and safety, as well as the passenger information systems, platform screen doors and communications technology.

“U5 will be the most modern metro in Germany,” says Dr Peter Tschentscher, first mayor of Hamburg. “It will be fully automated and, like all metro and S-Bahn trains in Hamburg, will run on 100% green electricity."

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