Paris metro makes conversion to driverless trains

PARIS -- Metro line 1 undergoes the transformation to new automated trains bringing much-needed upgrades to Parisian mass transit.
Written by Bryan Pirolli, Correspondent (Paris)

PARISThe oldest metro line in Paris welcomed new automated trains yesterday after four years of renovations.  The yellow line 1, opened in 1900 for the World’s Fair, is the first metro line to make the conversion to driverless trains in Paris.

Fourteen metro lines crisscross Paris but only one, the most recent line 14 in 1998, was built with a driverless train system in mind.  The line 1, which runs between the financial district at La Défense and the historic Chateau de Vincennes, had to be adapted to the new cars while remaining operational to the nearly 725,000 daily passengers.  This was a huge feat for the RATP, Paris’ mass transit system, but the process is not yet complete.  Currently 8 new trains will run on the tracks alongside older trains, with 41more automated trains on their way next year.

The new trains are not only driverless but also air-conditioned, a welcomed change for Parisians and tourists who frequently use the line.  The metro heats up especially in the summer with an influx of passengers.  Popular stops along the 1 line include many major tourist attractions including the Louvre, the Bastille, and the Tuileries Gardens.

Other upgrades include new colorful upholstered seats and modifications to the brake system to reduce sound pollution by two decibels.  Security gates between the tracks and the platforms were constructed, as conceived for the line 14, to prevent any accidents or mishaps.  Screens in the cars will also provide information concerning traffic along the lines, any expected delays, and general info supplied by the RATP.  The whole concept is to increase fluidity within the subway and, hopefully, to cut wait times by around 20 seconds, according to the RATP.

Expat Sophia Pagan takes the line 1 regularly.  Having felt the uncomfortable crush, especially, during the high tourist season, she welcomes the improvements.  “The changes should help make the ride more enjoyable and efficient for everyone,” Pagan said.

One of the most celebrated points?  After seeing five people faint due to heat and lack of ventilation, Pagan is happy about the air condition and air flow system.  “There have even been times I, myself have felt faint and sick,” she said, “and I think AC has been overdue in trains in Paris.”

Photo: www.SophiaPagan.com

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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