Automated Metro trains complete test runs

The trains will be a boon to Pujiang Town residents who commute to downtown jobs.

Filmed by Jiang Xiaowei. Edited by Zhong Youyang. Special thanks to Andy Boreham.

Jiang Xiaowei / SHINE

An automated train operates on trial runs ahead of the start of the new Pujiang Line service for commuters.

RESIDENTS in Minhang District suburban town of Pujiang who work downtown will soon find their daily commutes much easier.

Shanghai Metro’s Pujiang Line, the city’s first APM line, or Automated People Mover system, has passed trial runs and is on track to begin public service, possibly within weeks. No start date has been officially announced yet.

Automated people movers are driverless trains generally used for short-distance conveyance. According to the Shanghai Shentong Metro Group, the new 6.7-kilometer line has six elevated stations and will run from Huizhen Road Station in Pujiang Town to Shendu Highway Station, where passengers can transfer to Metro Line 8.

Jiang Xiaowei / SHINE

The new line is the first automated people mover in Shanghai. Passengers in the front carriage can watch the kilometers go by from large windows.

The entire operation of the new line will be remotely controlled by a central dispatch room. Passengers who sit at the head or tail of the train will have full access views outside through huge glass windows.

The trains are the first in the Shanghai Metro system to use rubber tires, which reduce noise.

Automated people movers are used around the world, including at the Dubai Airport, the Disneyland Resort Line in Hong Kong, and the Rennes and Toulouse metros in France.

Jiang Xiaowei / SHINE

Three of the new trains parked in the depot, awaiting the start of service.

Unlike many of these lines, where passengers cannot move from one carriage to another, the four carriages on the Pujiang Line train are open and passengers can move freely between them, making it the longest train of its kind in the world.

For the project, Shentong Metro partnered with France-based Keolis, the world’s leading provider of trams and automated rapid transit. That company has successfully operated 110 kilometers of track for automated people movers.

“Since this is an automated line, our officers will be largely working in the control room and in the stations,” said Yu Miao, manager of Shanghai Keolis, operator of the Pujiang Line.

Although the new trains are designed to achieve complete automation, Metro operators will have officers on the platforms and in carriages to handle any unforeseen circumstances during the first several months of operation.

A team of engineers from France was dispatched to Shanghai to help train staff. Francois Dieu, head of the team, said the most important element for an automated people mover system is smooth communications.

Jiang Xiaowei / SHINE

The 6.7-kilometer line has six stations and runs from Huizhen Road Station in Minhang District to Shendu Highway Station, a transfer point to Metro Line 8.

“Staff must be able to calm passengers if problems occur and guide them to safety,” Dieu said.

Speakers are installed in each carriage for passengers to use to alert officials in case of emergencies. Central control staff can then instruct the passengers on what to do through the speakers. There is also an emergency brake in every carriage. If pulled, the train will be held at the next station until officials assess the problem.

“We have also installed closed-circuit television and smoke detectors,” said Qi Duanjun, a safety engineer for the Pujiang Line. “We will always know what is going on in a train.”

Jiang Xiaowei / SHINE

Carriage doors are almost 2 meters wide, giving passengers more space to exit and board trains than standard Metro doors.

Qi said passengers will be warned not to stand on the junction plates between carriages. Because the turning radius of such trains is smaller than ordinary Metro trains, the junction plates will stretch and pull back according to the route, making it more difficult for a person standing on one to retain balance.

However, Qi said it’s likely that some passengers will stand on the plates during rush hours because of the numbers of people on the train.

Xi Wei, manager of the Pujiang Line project, said there are many residential communities along the route. By utilizing automated technology, the line is able to accommodate closer distances between stations, addressing the so-called “last kilometer” travel problem.

Jiang Xiaowei / SHINE

Pujiang Line carriages will be the first in the Shanghai Metro to run on rubber tires, which reduce noise.

Jiang Xiaowei / SHINE

A smoke detector on one of the new trains. If smoke is detected, the central dispatch room will guide the train to the nearest station and hold it there while passengers are evacuated.

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