Almost every day has been bringing about new problems in the trial runs at Metro 4: the trains do not stop at the stations as required, they override the end of the station, they start in the wrong direction, the doors open on the wrong side. Budapest Mayor István Tarlós, who has been promising a March start-up for the long-delayed and expensive project, now concedes that the technical problems may cause further delay.
With the stations completed and handed over, the trials were to eliminate some residual “smaller failures” and enable “fine tuning”, according to the city leadership in a press release. The National Traffic Authority (NKH) joined the testing, suggesting that the project is in an advanced state. But a recent report in daily newspaper Népszabadság said the first test results had not been promising: instead of the 60 successive days of flawless operation required by NKH before issuing an official licence to begin public operations, only two days had been problem-free – and not even in a row.
Even a single problem means the 60-day count should start over. However, Népszabadság reported NKH as talking about giving permission for start-up if the regularity of defects starts to lessen. The final operational licence will only be issued after one year of operation.
Népszabadság’s report offered possible explanations for the problems. First, the Alstom train factory in Poland does not have a sufficiently long test track, so it could only deliver “half-ready” trains to Budapest that were not fully tested. Second, Alstom, a French company, equipped the trains with other technical equipment than that used by Siemens on the tracks. Some of the machinery still has to be synchronised, such as the fully automated steering system – currently there is still a lot of human intervention needed.
Tarlós admitted he is “not fully calm” about the trial runs. He told Hír TV: “It might happen that the tests need to be started again and in theory we could miss the targeted date at the end of March.”
The city leadership solicited suggestions from the public about possible improvements to the above-ground Metro4 constructions, receiving more than 7,000 comments, well over expectations. These will be processed this month at the earliest.