Milan M4 metro extension reduces journey time to airport to 12 minutes

Hitachi Rail

The new M4 ‘Blue Line’ in Milan since this Tuesday reaches San Babila station, cutting journey times from Milan city centre to Linate airport from 33 to just 12 minutes. The metro’s autonomous trains and the signalling were supplied by Hitachi Rail.

The entire Blue Line is expected to be completed in the second half of 2024. By then, it will connect the east and west of the city with the historic centre, linking 21 stations in just 30 minutes. In total, the extension of the line is around 15 kilometres. The Blue Line is being delivered by the M4 consortium, in which the Japanese Hitachi Rail is a shareholder, with the majority of the shares held by the Milan City Council.

Hitachi provides modern driverless trains, the signalling system, telecommunication technologies and digital pricing and access control systems. As of this week, the M4 line of Milan arrives at San Babila, an interchange station with the M1 line, an important hub for connecting the entire city.

Map as shown on the M4 project website. 

Large increase in passengers

Hitachi Rail supplied the ATC signalling system, based on Communication Based Train Control (CBTC) driverless technology, which should deliver a reliable and safe service. The technology enables a high degree of flexibility, allowing the number of trains on the line to easily vary, responding to passenger needs, according to Hitachi.

Hitachi Rail will deliver a total 47 autonomous trains for the Blue Line. In peak hours, a train will run every 180 seconds, with a maximum speed of 80 kilometres per hour and a capacity of up to 500 passengers per vehicle. Each train will carry an estimated 24,000 people per hour per train direction.

Similar autonomous metro vehicles are also employed in Copenhagen, Riyadh and Honolulu. The trains will be equipped with a real-time video system connected to the PCO (Central Operations Centre), where all the automatic operational activities are carried out to manage the flow of trains and control the entire system. They have wide accessibility, and spaces designed specifically for the connection to and from Linate airport.

Luca D’Aquila, COO Hitachi Rail Group and CEO Hitachi Rail Italy: “This is a significant milestone for the city in achieving mass modal shift from private to public transport. When the new Blue Line is complete next year, it will remove 4.43 million cars from the road helping to dramatically cut congestion, carbon emissions and harmful air pollution.”

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Author: Esther Geerts

Former Editor

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