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Opinion

PM signals India’s first autopilot train

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday inaugurated India’s first automated, driverless train on the Delhi Metro’s Magenta Line, even as he outlined his government’s plans to extend metro services to more than 25 cities by 2025.

At an online event, it also launched the National Common Mobility Card (NCMC), which allows users to pay for rides, toll fees and retail purchases, and allows them to withdraw money at the same time, for the Metro Airport Express Line from Delhi.

“The inauguration of the first Metro driverless train shows how fast India is moving towards smart systems,” Modi said via videoconference. “When our government was formed in 2014, only five cities had subway services. And today, 18 cities have Metro services. By 2025, we will bring this service to more than 25 cities ”.

In 2014, only 248km of metro lines were operational in the country, but now the network stretches more than 700km, Modi said. “By 2025, we are trying to expand it to 1,700 km. These are not just numbers; they are proof of the ease of living in the lives of millions of indigenous people ”, he added.

Modi also emphasized the importance of “Make in India,” a reference to his government’s flagship initiative to promote domestic manufacturing, in expanding metro services, and said this would reduce costs and create jobs.

When urbanization accelerated a few decades ago, not much attention was paid to the needs of the future, he said. “The first Metro in Delhi was started by the efforts of Atal (Bihari Vajpayee) ji,” Modi said, referring to the late Prime Minister. “The metro today is no longer just a means of public transport, but an excellent way to reduce pollution. Thousands of vehicles have been cut off the road due to the Metro network … “

Delhi Metro services, covering 389 km on nine routes (lines), began in 2002, when the city-state was governed by a congressional government headed by the late Sheila Dikshit, and Vajpayee was the prime minister.

Former Prime Minister Dikshit’s efforts to bring the metro to the capital cannot be ignored, said Delhi’s head of Congress Anil Chaudhary. “… the people of Delhi and this country know that the Metro was brought to the city thanks to the efforts of Sheila Dikshit and the Congress party.”

Meanwhile, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) said it entered the elite league of 7% of the world’s Metro networks with the introduction of automated trains.

“Driverless trains will be fully automated, eliminating the possibility of human error. The service will be available on the Magenta Line of the Delhi Metro … This will be extended to the Pink Line of the Delhi Metro (Majlis Park-Shiv Vihar) in mid-2021, “said DMRC in a statement.

The technology has different levels or degrees of automation (GoA), officials explained. In first grade, or GoA 1, trains are driven by one conductor. In GoA 2 and GoA 3, the role of the driver is reduced to operating doors and taking control in case of emergencies; the starting and stopping of trains is automated. Finally, in GoA 4, the trains are set to a completely unattended mode of operations.

The first driverless train left Jasola Vihar-Shaheen Bagh on the 37km Magenta Line, which connects Janakpuri West in West Delhi with the Botanical Garden in Noida. In all, five automated trains ran on Monday. All of these operated in GoA 3 mode with a driver present to attend to emergency services.

Another important conclusion of the event was the launch of NCMC, which will now be fully operational on the Airport Express line of the Delhi Metro. It will allow anyone with a RuPay debit card issued anywhere in the country to travel on the route. The facility will be available throughout the Delhi metro network by 2022, the Prime Minister’s Office said.

Sewa Ram, a mobility expert and professor at the School of Planning and Architecture (SPA), said the technologies introduced Monday were a big leap in the area of ​​urban mobility. “Not only the Metro, the common mobility card must be extended to all modes of transport. This will not only help provide a common platform for people … but it will also enable better research data. Researchers will be able to better assess people’s travel patterns and, consequently, suggest the best development plan, ”Ram said.

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