Tourists in Paris can travel faster by new, driverless Metro trains

Sightseers in the heart of Paris can now travel to the Louvre, Champs-Elysées and other tourist spots on a faster Metro service that’s also driverless.

The first fully automatic trains from Siemens recently went into service on Metro Line 1, which is also the city’s most heavily used one. According to Siemens, the driverless system will enable the Paris transit authority RATP (Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens) to space trains at intervals of 85 seconds rather than the previous 105 seconds when conditions require faster service (for example, during sporting events or large trade fairs). Train movements can be adjusted as needed from the RATP’s control center.

The 17-kilometer east-west line — the oldest in the Metro system — carries up to 725,000 passengers a day. Destinations along the line include the Louvre, Champs-Elysées, Hôtel de Ville (city hall), Place de la Concorde, Arc de Triomphe and the high-rise district La Défense.

Amazingly, the trackside operations control system and the complete telecommunications were installed without any service disruptions along the busy Metro line.

“It is the first time we’ve automated such an important and heavily frequented mass-transit route without disrupting normal services,” said Jochen Eickholt, CEO of Siemens’ Rail Automation Business Unit.

For now, only some of the trains on the line will be the advanced driverless models. By the beginning of 2013, however, all 49 vehicles are expected to be upgraded.

In addition to being faster, the driverless rail system also improves energy efficiency, according to Siemens. Another Metro line equipped with the system is showing power savings of 15 percent per year.

Siemens has also installed similar rail systems in the New York Subway, Barcelona, São Paulo and Algiers, and has one on order from the Hungarian operating company BKV Zrt. for two lines in Budapest.​


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