Even as the Delhi Metro Rail Corporationhurries to complete the third phase of Delhi Metro's expansion before the year ends, it will start testing cutting-edge driverless trains from July. These trains are equipped with cameras and sensors that stand in for human operators. However, for a year after their deployment, they will run with human assistants on board.
The newly built coaches were launched on Wednesday at Mukundpur Depot which has been constructed specifically with the driverless trains in mind. DMRC managing director Mangu Singh announced that trial runs of the Unattended Train Operations (UTO) would start on line 8 (Janakpuri West to Botanical Garden) on July 1, followed by line 6 (ITO to Kashmere Gate section) the same month, and line 7 (Mukundpur to Shiv Vihar) from October 16.
Singh said that commuters would enjoy exclusive facilities on these trains. They will have Wi-Fi access, more spacious seating, LED screens showing digital route maps, noise reduction and special amenities for the differently abled.
"UTO will provide for a different experience altogether," said Singh. It would include the novelty of being able to see past the driver's cabin while travelling. Cameras fitted at the front would, with sensors, constitute the automated driving system, but staff would be deputed to operate the trains initially keeping public safety in mind. After a year-long, human-assisted operations, the trains would run on full automation.
"We can expect to travel in a driverless train by the end of next year," said Singh. "The trains will be controlled from operation centres, and a strict watch will be maintained over their running." DMRC will run 81 such trains. Fourteen of them have already reached the Mukundpur depot.
The third phase will also adopt a new signalling technology called Communication Based Train Control. On Wednesday, officials announced the schedule for the signalling trials. On the Botanical Garden-Kalkaji and Terminal 1 IGI-Janakpuri West stretches, the trials will begin in July this year. The Terminal 1 IGI-Kalkaji section will see trials in September.
Of the 56 km of tracks on the Majlis Park-Shiv Vihar segment, work has been completed on 54 km. Short stretches in areas like Mayapuri, Naraina and Trilokpuri await completion because DMRC ran into problems regarding land acquisition. Tunnelling work on the ITO-Kashmere Gate section has also been completed.
The construction work of Phase III has proved more challenging than the first two phases because a many sections in the expansion lie in densely populated areas. The 55 kilometres of underground construction was also longer than those of the earlier phases.
"In terms of length, the volume of work in Phase III is almost equal to the combined construction length of the first two phases," pointed out Singh. Of the 56 kilometres of tracks on the Majlis ParkShiv Vihar segment, work has been completed on 54 kilometres. Short stretches in areas like Mayapuri, Naraina and Trilokpuri await completion because DMRC ran into problems regarding land acquisition. Tunnelling work on the ITO-Kashmere Gate section of Line 6 has also been completed and trials will take place in July. Construction work on less than two kilometres of the Janakpuri West-Botanical Garden line is pending.