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Automation will meet the demands of the modern city

01 Feb 2005

Raising line capacity on the Paris metro by 30% is the prime objective of a comprehensive modernisation programme that includes cutting headways to 90sec on many lines. Most ambitious of all is conversion of Line 1 to driverless operation

MEETING the aspirations of today's city dwellers, whether in western Europe or southeast Asia, demands public transport where services are more frequent and more reliable than ever before.

In a bid to respond to this requirement, the world's oldest metro networks are being rebuilt or thoroughly modernised, while in the booming cities of Asia new metros are being built at breakneck pace.

In Paris, the driverless Line 14, known as M‚t‚or, that opened in October 1998 between Madeleine and Bibliothèque François Mitterrand has established unprecedented standards in terms of reliability and frequency. Météor is seen as a model for future developments, not least because automation achieves the key objective of higher capacity.

RATP is now committed to converting Line 1 to driverless operation as a full-scale pilot project, and on other lines capacity will be increased in the short term by improvements to signalling and train control. Our specific aim is to raise capacity on the busier lines by 30%, with services operating at very frequent intervals. The target is to run trains at headways of between 90 sec and 3 min during peak hours and throughout much of the day. The service interval will increase to 5 min after 20.30.

Line 13 upgrade

As its traffic has been rising continuously since 1998, Line 13 will be the first to be upgraded and re-equipped. A significant share of the growth has been driven by the interchange at St Lazare, which has generated much new traffic; Line 13 connects there with lines 3, 12 and 14 - which was extended from Madeleine in December 2003 - as well as with RER Line E and SNCF's busy western suburban and main line services.

A further increase in traffic on Line 13 is envisaged in December 2007, when the branch to Asnières-Gennevilliers will be extended to Asnières-Gennevilliers Le Luth. At the moment two out of five trains use the branch, but in future every other train will be routed this way. Peak services on the main section of Line 13 will increase from 25 to 28 trains/h in each direction, absorbing much of the rising demand.

The key element in the capacity improvement plan is the Ouragan programme, which aims to bring about comprehensive updating and modernisation of all signalling and train control systems. This will be rolled out across the network over the next 15 years. Work on Line 13 will be completed in 2007, and Line 3 will be next in 2008. Lines 5, 12, 9 and 10 will then follow at intervals of 18 months.

Ouragan covers modernisation of the line control centres, as well as replacement of wayside and on-board train control equipment. Continuous speed control and cab signalling will enhance safety, while reliability should improve thanks to greater redundancy and the use of stand-by equipment. Comfort will also be improved, in the sense that waiting times will be cut because of the more frequent services.

The cost of implementing Ouragan on Line 13 is €130m, to which must be added €70m for refurbishment and modernisation of the MF77 rolling stock - this will include installation of automated passenger information systems, a new seating layout, better ventilation and lighting. Funding will be shared by RATP (€166·7m), and the Contract-Plan agreed between the state and the Ile-de-France region.

An important component of the Line 13 programme is the installation of platform screen doors. Not only do they increase safety by preventing suicides or passengers and objects falling off the platform, but they also improve reliability by stopping deliberate incursions on to the track or down the tunnels. In Paris this is a serious problem with petty criminals such as pickpockets using tunnels to make their escape from platforms, which can be a major cause of disruption. The number of incidents of trespass on the track has doubled over the past decade to over 3000 a year, accounting for 30% of the total delays. In 2003, around 72% of all delays on the metro were caused by passengers.

The platform screen door programme will start with several 'demonstration' sites at selected platforms on Line 13. Later, platform screen doors will be fitted at all the busier stations on the line.

Line 1 conversion

Platform screen doors are an essential element in RATP's most ambitious capacity enhancement plan - conversion to driverless operation of Line 1. Météor has yielded valuable lessons with platform screen doors, but the pilot scheme on Line 13 will give first-hand experience of installing and operating doors on a line that was not built for driverless operation from the outset.

RATP carried out a preliminary study on automation of Line 1 in 2003. This demonstrated that the move was the most effective way of meeting passengers' aspirations for high standards of service, especially during the morning peak hours and after 20.00. Infrastructure, signalling and train control equipment on Line 1 is approaching life expiry, and the study indicated that a relatively modest capital outlay would suffice for conversion to automation over and above what would in any case be essential for modernisation. The biggest challenge will be to carry out the conversion with minimal disturbance to the existing service.

After six years of operating Météor, we can confirm that our original targets for driverless operation have been met. The cost per train-km of running driverless trains is 65% of the cost of a conventional line. Reliability too is higher, with figures of 99·8% attained in a quality of service assessment. Add to that a reduction in labour costs, plus the well-established advantage of being able to respond rapidly to a sudden influx of passengers by stepping up the frequency of services, and the benefits of conversion become overwhelming. Line 14 also demonstrated the advantages of running more frequent services in the evenings, with trains scheduled at 4 min 30 sec intervals compared to every 6 or 7 min.

Line 1 is the oldest on the 212 km network, and with 207 million boardings a year it is the busiest line in Paris - it plays a truly essential role in the Ile-de-France public transport network. A census in 2000 confirmed that there were 280 000 people living within 500 m of Line 1 stations, and no fewer than 330 000 jobs within the line's catchment area. It also serves the majority of historical and tourist sites in the city.

Along the 16·6 km between Château de Vincennes and La Défense are 25 stations, 16 of which are the busiest in Paris. Five of these are especially busy: La Défense, Étoile, Châtelet, Gare de Lyon and Nation. There are interchanges with 11 of the other 13 metro lines, four out of five RER lines, as well as one of the Paris tram routes. Numerous business districts are served, including La Défense.

Automation timetable

RATP began the tendering procedure for the equipment needed for the conversion programme during autumn 2004. If all goes according to plan, contracts will be awarded in September 2005.

ATO and ATC will be procured on the basis of a contract that is functionally similar to the one for equipment on Line 14, but changes will need to be made to accommodate lower adhesion on open-air sections, for example. The equipment will need to be designed for future enhancement that could include track-to-train communication by radio, and interoperability to UGTMS standards - the metro equivalent of ERTMS.

New rolling stock will be bought separately, and will be 'functionally identical and technically equivalent' to that operating on Line 14. A fleet of 49 six-car trains is required; each will carry 144 seated and 578 standing passengers.

Earlier, it was envisaged that the MP89 rolling stock currently used on Line 1 would be converted for driverless operation, as the vehicles are almost identical to the MP89CA version used on Line 14. However, RATP has now decided to procure new trains and transfer the existing stock to Line 4, where more modern trains will certainly be welcomed by this busy line's regular users.

Installation of the medium-height platform screen doors will be a challenge in several ways. Minimising disruption and educating passengers will both be important during construction. The first doors should be installed in June 2008. A month later the line's new control centre should be commissioned, paving the way for a transition period when the line has to operate with both manually-driven and driverless trains. The first driverless train is expected to run in July 2009, and all trains should be running without drivers during 2010.

Trains currently take 76 min to complete a round trip on Line 1, travelling at an average speed including stops of 27·4 km/h. With automation, this will rise to 30 km/h, and capacity will increase from 25 000 passengers/h in each direction to 26 500.

RATP attaches considerable importance to the staffing aspects of the automation programme. Essentially, staff will be retrained to act as roving customer assistants, helping passengers on stations and trains as required. Keeping a human presence is important for security and other reasons, and staff will be more visible than drivers are on conventional lines.


  • Paris metro Line 14 has shown that the cost per train-km of automatic operation is around 65% of that for a conventional line; reliability is also higher at around 99·8%. Photo: Jean-Paul Masse
  • Linking Bibiliothèque François Mitterrand with St Lazare, Paris Line 14 has provided the impetus for converting other lines to driverless operation. Photo:RATP/Sutton
  • The Ouragan programme to install ATO on Line 13 will increase capacity from 25 to 28 trains/h in each direction when completed in 2007. Photo:RATP/Bruno
  • The extra capacity on Line 13 will allow RATP to increase services on the branch to Asnières-Gennevilliers from 10 to 14 trains/h after 2007; the St Denis service will fall slightly from 15 to 14 trains/h. Photo:RATP/Mauboussin
  • The busiest line on the Paris metro network, Line 1 will be converted to fully-automatic operation in 2009-10. Photo: RATP/Dumax


Automation meets the demands of the modern city

Raising line capacity on the Paris metro by 30% is the prime objective of a modernisation plan that includes cutting headways to 90 sec on several lines. The most ambitious part of the programme is conversion to driverless operation of Line 1, which has numerous interchanges and is the busiest on the network. Contracts are due to be awarded later this year, and the first driverless trains are expected to run in July 2009.

L'automatisation répond aux attentes de la ville moderne

Accroître de 30% la capacité des lignes du métro de Paris, tel est l'objectif premier du plan de modernisation qui inclut la réduction à 90 secondes de l'espacement des trains sur plusieurs lignes. La part la plus ambitieuse est la conversion à l'exploitation sans conducteur de la ligne 1 qui compte de nombreuses stations de correspondance et reste la plus chargée du réseau. Les contrats devraient être adjugés plus tard cette année et les premiers trains sans conducteur sont attendus pour juillet 2009.

Automatisierung entspricht den Bedürfnissen der Modernen Stadt

Eine Kapazitätssteigerung der Pariser Metro um 30% ist das Hauptziel eines Modernisierungsplans, welcher unter anderem eine Reduktion der Zugfolgezeit auf 90 Sekunden auf bestimmten Strecken umfasst. Der ambitiöseste Teil des Programms ist die Umwandlung der Linie 1 auf fahrerlosen Betrieb, welche verschiedene Anschlüsse hat und zudem die am stärksten benutzte Strecke des ganzen Netzes ist. Aufträge werden voraussichtlich noch dieses Jahr erteilt, und der fahrerlose Betrieb soll im Juli 2009 aufgenommen werden.

La automatización responde a las demandas de la ciudad moderna

Incrementar la capacidad de las líneas del metro de Paris en un 30% es el objetivo principal de un plan de modernización que prevé reducir el intervalo entre trenes a 90 segundos. El apartado más ambicioso del programa es la conversi¢n de la Línea 1, en la que existen varios intercambiadores y que es la más concurrida de la red, para que los trenes circulen sin conductor. Los contratos se adjudicarán antes de finales de año, y se espera que los primeros trenes automáticos circulen en julio de 2009.