IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis

India’s first driverless metro in Delhi

29th December, 2020 Science and Technology

Context: Indias first fully automated driverless train runs on the Magenta Line of the Delhi Metro during a trial run, in New Delhi, on December 28, 2020.

  • The first ‘driverless’ train will roll out on the 38-km Line 8 or Magenta Line of the Delhi Metro, which has a 390-km-long network spread across the national capital and adjoining cities such as Noida, Gurugram, Faridabad, Ghaziabad and Bahadurgarh.
  • Delhi Metro, now the country’s largest urban mass rapid transit system, had commenced operations on December 24, 2002 on a 8.4-km stretch between Shahdara and Tis Hazari stations.
  • Since then, its network has been growing, with another 61-km set to be added under the Phase IV expansion project.
  • Since 2002, Delhi Metro has also made several technological leaps in terms of operating trains, and the transition to ‘driverless’ mode is the latest in the series of changes over the last 18 years.
  • The Centre has also notified changes in the Metro Railways General Rules, 2020 as the previous norms did not allow driverless services.
  • The driverless train operation (DTO) or unattended train operation (UTO) requires corridors are equipped with an advanced signalling technology which makes the transition possible.

How much control do drivers have over train operations now?

  • Even now, trains are mostly remotely controlled from the command rooms of the DMRC known as Operations Control Centre (OCC), from where teams of engineers track and monitor in real time train movement across the DMRC network.
  • The OCCs are akin to air traffic control towers equipped with large display walls and communication technology.

But how safe will be trains running on UTO mode?

  • DMRC points out its train operations already involve a considerable degree of automation.
  • And the high-resolution cameras, once installed, will obviate the need for manual monitoring of tracks from the drivers’ cabins.
  • Under the plan, images of tracks and overhead wires, from which trains draw power, transmitted to the OCCs shall be continuously analysed and corrective action taken immediately in the event of any abnormality.