CCTV cameras, obstruction detection devices: DMRC's driverless trains offer speed with safety

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New Delhi, Dec 28 (PTI) The driverless trains of Delhi Metro will offer more reliability due to reduced human intervention, and are equipped with hi-tech cameras and obstruction sensing devices to ensure safety of passengers, officials said on Monday.

India's first-ever driverless train operations on the Delhi Metro's Magenta Line was on Monday inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who said his government unlike its predecessors has taken growing urbanisation as an opportunity and asserted that metro train services will be extended to 25 cities by 2025 from the current 18 cities.

As passengers took a ride on this next-generation train, some of them felt unease thinking about the safety aspects, however, metro officials have reassured that technology will ensure the journey will be smoother and faster with full safety.

Driven by cutting-edge technology, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) had been conducting various trials for its new 'driverless trains'. The operationalisation of these trains is a major technologcal milestone for the DMRC and the country.

'These trains can run at an average speed, which is a few notches higher than that of a regular driver-driven one (about 35 kmph). In old trains, in case of an emergency, a passenger can press the PAD (Passenger Alert Device) red button and alert the driver. In case of a driverless train, after pressing the button, the footage of the carriage will be sent to the operations control room to take action needed,' a senior DMRC official told PTI.

The driverless train having six coaches are equipped with several advanced features. These new trains of Delhi Metro have undergone significant technological as well as eco-friendly upgrades and many more features have been added to increase passenger comfort. 'Each coach has four PAD buttons, so a total of 24 such alarm devices are there in a train. Also, there is an obstruction detection device (ODD) below the main coach on the track facing side. This equipment can sense big hurdles through a sensor and the train get then be halted, or if the obstruction is very small, it can even remove and clear the way for the train,' he said.

With the commencement of these new-generation trains, the DMRC has now entered the select league of '7 per cent of world's Metro networks' which can operate services without drivers, officials said.

From pride and excitement to surprise and a little bit of apprehension, several young and old commuters went through a gamut of emotions as they rode the country's first driverless train on the 37-km Magenta Line.

Delhi Metro had begun its commercial operation on December 25, 2002, a day after the then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee inaugurated DMRC's first stretch, spanning 8.2 km from Shahdara to Tis Hazari, with just six stations. The Delhi Metro's current operational network spans about 390 km with 285 stations across 11 corridors, including Noida–Greater Noida line. On regular days, the average daily ridership of the Delhi Metro is over 26 lakh. 'The fully automated trains will reduce human intervention in operations and offer more reliability and safety for the commuters. This system also brings more flexibility in trains in operation. As a result, the number of trains in service can be regulated based on demand dynamically without any dependence on availability of crew,' the DMRC said in a statement.

Since these trains operate on communication based train control (signalling) system, they can be run with a headway as high as 90 seconds to offer more carrying capacity, it said.

About five driverless trains were deployed on Monday and the number will be gradually increased.

Initially, the train operator will be present in these new trains to 'instil a sense of confidence' and offer assistance, the DMRC said.

Higher level of diagnostic features in driverless train operation will 'help move from conventional time-based maintenance to condition-based maintenance'. This will also reduce maintenance down time of trains, the statement said.

The Delhi Metro had in September 2017 started full signaing trials of its new 'driverless trains' along a 20-km-long stretch on the Pink Line, which was yet to be commissioned back then.

The 57-km Pink Line (Majlis Park–Shiv Vihar) will also have driverless operations by mid-2021, the DMRC said on Sunday.

Modi on Monday also launched the National Common Mobility Card (NCMC) services on the Airport Express Line.

This service enables passengers from any part of the country to use their NCMC-compliant RuPay debit card for seamless travel. The same card can also be used for shopping, banking transactions, among others, across the country.

DMRC's system will be able to accept transactions from 23 banks through the RuPay debit card issued by them.

Delhi Metro had introduced a 'closed loop' smart card to encourage cashless transaction on metro travel in 2002.

'However, automatic fare collection (AFC) system in Delhi Airport Express Line has now been made fully 'open loop' today, as it accepts any Rupay Debit Card compliant to National Common Mobility Card (NCMC) standards,' the DMRC tweeted.