Paris Metro ‘pioneering the future in metro automation & signalling’

With 14 lines, 300 stations, 213 kilometres of tracks and about 1.4 billion passengers per year, the Métro de Paris ranks among the densest and busiest in the world.

The Paris Metro network is run by the Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens (RATP) Group, which also manages an extensive suburban regional express network (Réseau Express Régional or RER) and operates 4,500 buses and three tramways.

The company carries approximately 8.5 million passengers per day, and the group is continuously working on a programme to modernise train control systems.

“One among leading metros in the world, RATP has displayed the most nimbleness in addressing the imperative to shift from driver-operated lines to completely automatic ones,” says Frost & Sullivan Senior Research Analyst, Sudhakaran Jampala.

“Though there are multiple cities worldwide that have commissioned driverless systems on Greenfield projects, RATP launched an ambitious programme for automation of the Brownfield Line 1, which is the busiest and the oldest line in the network.”

The line was commissioned in 1900 and currently carries close to 220 million passengers per annum.

With the launch of the Line 1 automation project in 2004, the line has become the first Brownfield metro line in the world being converted to a Driverless Train Operation (DTO) mode.

By 2012, the line is expected to be fully unattended with a new series of completely automated Alstom MP05 rolling stock coming on stream after a brief period of coexistence with the driver-operated MP89 trains.

The total cost of the project is approximately €550 million, with approximately 70 per cent of it channelled into the acquisition of new rolling stock.

RATP also has an expansive Semi-automatic Train Operation (STO) programme, either progressing or planned, across six lines, including L3 and L5, as a testimony and first step of application for a generic Communication Based Train Control (CBTC) programme currently planned to be ultimately deployed across the lines that do not fall under the potential Unattended Train Operation (UTO) programmes.

Since 2003 RATP has rolled out a vast resignalling programme named OCTYS in order to support the drive towards enhanced metro automation.

The generic OCTYS system today entering service on lines 3 and 5 is based on a concept that RATP calls ‘Interchangeability’, according to which the CBTC system is segmented into a number of subsystems, so that dependence on any one supplier is averted.

“RATP has proved itself to be a strong systems integrator, as evidenced by its integration of CBTC units through purchase of individual components from multiple suppliers,” explains Jampala.

“Suppliers are now compelled to vie for better performance levels in relation to one another, as they understand that RATP is not interested in off-the-shelf unitary products.”

“The strategy also displays RATP’s intent to address line extensions, new rolling stock procurement and general maintenance spares procurement, on a fully competitive basis.”

Transport Authorities from around the world have widely benefited from RATP’s bold metro automation procedures and innovative market strategies with respect to strategic procurement from suppliers, whose earlier generation of automatic products had been proven and referenced in RATP networks.

“And the benefits to passengers are many in the process, including heavily reduced headways, enhanced punctuality, increased communication and coordination of diverse train timetables and better mobility,” concludes Jampala.


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