Driverless metro opens in Nuremberg

Germany's first fully automated subway line has begun passenger operations in Nuremberg. During its introductory phase it will also be the first driverless metro in the world to share a section of line with conventionally driven trains.

Known by its German acronym RUBIN (realisation of an automated metro in Nuremberg), Metro Line 3 was developed by Siemens Mobility for the Nuremberg transit authority (VAG).

Dr Heinrich Hiesinger, CEO of Siemens' Industry Sector, called RUBIN "a showcase project". Worldwide it will be the model for the successive conversion and modernisation of conventional metro systems to automated operation.

RUBIN's U3 is expected to operate for one year in mixed running on a section of track shared with the conventional trains of Line U2. By the end of 2009, this existing line will be converted to automated operation too.

Fully automation will enable the trains to run at headways of 100 seconds during peak hours instead of at the previous 200 seconds intervals in normal operation or 150 seconds in mixed operation. In order to meet the demand generated by major public events, dispatchers can deploy additional trains independent of regularly scheduled metro service. They can pull in extra trains from the stabling tracks simply by pressing a button.

At the heart of this automated operation is the ATC technology with its two main components for automatic train control and automatic train protection. Computers located along the line provide a continuous link between these two systems and a high-performance computer in VAG's operations control centre. This master computer constantly compares the data received from the trains and the line and is therefore able to pinpoint the exact position of every train at any time ̵1; in fractions of a second.

Extension work on Line U3 is still in progress at the Kaulbachplatz and Friedrich-Ebert-Platz metro stations.


Image: Passengers on the new line's opening day


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