Driverless metro eyes delay
Plans to operate a driverless metro seem to
have incurred a setback. The ‘automatic
metro’ is supposed to operate on the new line 3 first. The line was supposed to go automatic in 2030
but given slow progress on the construction of the new line this no longer
seems a realistic scenario.
Guy Sablon, spokesman for the Brussels
local transport company MIVB, says line 3 will only be able to go automatic in
2032 at the earliest.
The company isn’t ruling out other lines going
automatic or driverless before this date.
In the course of 2025 tests will be carried out on lines 1 and 5. Between the stations Erasmus and Coovi it will
The decision to roll out automatic services
on line 3 first was taken out of financial concerns. Now the completion of line
3 is being delayed the transport company is looking at other options. “We’re
not ruling out automatic services will start on lines 1 and 5 earlier, but that
is a political decision. In theory we’ll
be ready to automate these lines in 2025” says Sablon.
An automated metro will allow a higher
frequency of services. Metro services
would be able to run every 90 seconds – a gain of one minute in comparison with
today. Automated services don’t require
a driver. All services are operated by a
modern signalling system that shows the location of each carriage. Modernisation of the system will be complete
Automatic services require platform
screens. The transparent screens
separate platforms from the rails. Doors
provide access to carriages but only open when a train is at a standstill.
So far only stations Erasmus, Eddy Merckx and
Coovi have been equipped with the screens as part of the tests planned on lines
1 and 5. The screens ensure that passengers can’t end up on the track.
The system also requires identical metro
trains. At present several different
versions operate. 43 modified M7 trains have
already been ordered, but only half have been delivered. The MIVB expects to take receipt of the
remaining carriages within 18 months.