Subte: Line F Project to Be Driverless and Fully Automated
Juan Pablo Piccardo, General Manager of SBASE, has confirmed that Line F of the Argentine capital’s subterranean rail network will be fully automated and transport 500,000 passengers per day with construction of stage one scheduled for 2017.
Plans for the project, which has been approved by law 670 of the state legislature, have evolved over the past months, following studies and consultation with the French company Systra.
Initial plans showed the route passing from Constitución to Plaza Italiano, however, the latest studies show the first phase line will run below Garay, Entre Ríos and Callao avenues, before arriving at the Faculty of Law. The projected extension is then expected to continue to Barracas and then finally Avellaneda, passing Montes de Oca and Hornos avenues.
Line F will be added to the list of 38 current global rail and metro lines that operate without drivers. SBASE have been keen to emphasize that advances in technology mean that this is the safest way to now operate a metro network. Given that the majority of collisions are attributed to human era, a driverless solution can ensure stopping and starting with great consistency. Sensors mean that a minimum distance between trains is maintained and automated doors prevent passengers entering the way of the train at stations.
Technology also means that headways can be altered precisely and safely, to meet with fluctuating demand or if a train is out of service. In addition to substantial improvements in safety and potentially enhancing capacity, this type of system will significantly reduce operating costs.
The greatest cost for such a project is the engineering and construction of tunnels, with the implementation of an automated system, such as that proposed, expected to represent only 5-10% of overall costs. Once implemented the consistency of the system means that resources are optimized, resulting in reduced maintenance and energy costs.
Another potential saving comes with reduced staff costs, however, Juan Pablo Piccardo was keen to assure unions and concerned employees of the continued need for their services.
“In no way do we seek to undermine the unions. People will continue to be needed in the workshops, ticketing offices, and importantly to provide information for passengers. The allocation will be the same, what will change will be the responsibilities; instead of pushing a button to open doors, employees will focus on maintaining the technology and helping passengers” the General Manager explained.
Piccardo noted that 700 ticket sellers and 400 auxiliaries have already begun full training to help improve the customer experience.
Line F of the Subte will operate 15 trains with a peak time headway of 90 seconds.