Bringing safety, enhanced performance and lowered life-cycle cost to metros is the modern signalling technology called communication-based train control (CBTC). The methodology and technology have been perfected by companies like Thales.
Indian cities are among the worldÂ´s fastest developing cities in terms of every aspect- population, economy, and infrastructure. This has invariably called for a shift from private modes of conveyance to a mass public transport system. The smart, convenient, and cost-effective metro rail system has risen to become the future of travel for most of the urban population.
Talking about the origin of the metro rail system, Kolkata was the first city to get a mass rapid transit system (MRTS) in India post-independence. India saw its second metro rail project after a gap of 14 years in Delhi in 1998 that got operational in 2002, with the opening of the first section on the Red Line. Today, Delhi Metro has set precedence for all other cities such as Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Jaipur, and Chennai, where the metro rail work is already underway. The next phase of MRTS has been planned for smaller cities such as Lucknow, Kochi, Kanpur, Nagpur, Patna, Ludhiana, Indore, Pune, Chandigarh, and Ahmedabad, among others. Most of these cities are adopting the metro rail system as it reduces fuel consumption, pollution, congestion on roads, and offers more efficient connectivity within the respective cities, thereby, uplifting the overall socio-economic status of the states and the country. Metro rail systems also seamlessly integrate with existing modes of transport in the city, and ensure passenger safety and security to commuters.
With several metro projects underway across the country, the ability to visualise and control operations, monitor passenger flows, and regulate train services in response to demand is crucial. Advanced signalling, supervision, and tolling technologies become paramount not only to boost the capacity of the existing transport network, but also to ensure that new infrastructure delivers optimum performance from day one.
Bringing safety, enhanced performance, and lowered life-cycle cost to metros is the modern signalling technology called communication-based train control (CBTC). The methodology and technology have been perfected by companies like Thales. In use for over thirty years, CBTC comes with built-in flexibility and supports basic automatic train protection (ATP). Apart from enabling an increase in network capacity and reducing energy consumption, CBTC system allows trains to run without drivers too. The first CBTC system for a metro network in India was announced for the Hyderabad Metro Rail Project in December 2012. Since then, other cities too have started to adopt this contemporary technology.
The other key technology that facilitates monitoring of every facet of complex metro rail operations is supervision. The supervision system, managed via the Operation Control Centre, not only provides the operator with a single, integrated view of the transport system, but also helps in simultaneously overseeing various train sub-systems and operations, ranging from traffic management to power supplies, security, and communications. The key components of this system include data transmission, public address and passenger information display, fault reporting facilities, office automation and IT, CCTV, access control and intrusion detection, master clock, and telephony, among others.
Integration and inter-operability at every level of the transport system is the key to smooth, continuous rail operations and enhanced safety and security for passengers, operators, employees, and assets.
Looking at the high percentage of people using metro rail in India, it is imperative to provide an effective ticketing system to ensure smooth and seamless passenger movement across stations. For example, metros have the automatic fare collection system (AFC) deployed that has helped eliminate on-board ticketing, ensured easy accounting of revenue collection, and has also done away with the need for ticket checking staff. This fare collection system has not only provided clearing and settlement solutions for transport operators, but also enhanced the passenger experience and offered seamless journey, thereby, encouraging citizens to use public transport.
Varied technology solutions such as the ones mentioned above have been enablers of smart transport systems in India. In the current scenario, technology-enabled metro rail has a major role in the making of smart cities. Every metro rail system would be very important, given the governmentÂ´s ambitious plan to build 100 smart cities and ensure environmentally sustainable transportation facilities in these cities. Investing in metro rail and other rapid transport solutions can offer the city a cost-efficient, eco-friendly, and reliable mode of transport. As more cities adapt to such rapid transport systems, there will be huge growth opportunities for new technologies and solutions to make urban mobility more efficient. This will open up several avenues for companies like Thales for facilitating customisation and development of urban transportation solutions to cater to the ever-changing demands and needs of the commuters.
The article has been authored by Antoine Caput, Country Director & VP – India, Thales.