Not only is the city’s Metro rail network set to expand, it will also bring technology Mumbai’s commuters have never experienced before — a driverless Metro line.
The Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation announced the city’s first underground metro rail corridor between Colaba and SEEPZ, Andheri, would be a driverless metro line. They have planned to build the metro with an advanced system that would allow plying of metros without drivers after they become operational in 2012. Initially, the services would be run with drivers and gradually will become driverless.
AA Bhatt, director, Systems of MMRC, said the 33.5 km corridor will be equipped with an advanced signalling system — Communication Based Train Control (CBTC) — that would allow the driverless train operation. “We plan to operate the trains driverless. Initially, we will have drivers until the system is set. Gradually, after about a year, we will remove the drivers and operate driverless,” Bhatt said.
The senior MMRC official said the drivers will be available at stations to quickly take charge of the train in case of an emergency.
Two corridors in Delhi have already installed a similar system and will operate the 58-km Majlish Park-Shiv Vihar (Line 7) and the more than 38-km Janakpuri (West)- Botanical Garden (Line 8) corridors of Phase-III by the year end.
Bhatt said there are driverless trains being operated in 27 countries and adopting such technology is not a “luxury” any longer. “DMRC had to take clearance from Ministry of Railways for driverless trains. We are going to follow DMRC. So their experience will also come in handy,” Bhatt said.
Colaba-Bandra-SEEPZ (Metro 3) corridor is a crucial north-south link, which will supplement the existing suburban rail network in the city. It will link key business districts such as MIDC and SEEPZ in Andheri, and the plush business district of BKC and Nariman Point as well as the city airport.
Meanwhile, the MMRC will start metro services with eight-coach rakes instead of six-coach rakes, which was planned earlier. MMRC has estimated a surge in ridership by the time the project will be commissioned by 2021. “Initially we had planned to order 38 rakes of six coaches, but now we are ordering 31 trains of eight cars,” Bhatt said. The Colaba-SEEPZ metro line is mired in controversies owing to opposition from some quarters over building a car shed at Aarey Colony and also residents in some buildings in south Mumbai who would have to be relocated.