Planning and building an automated line involves additional challenges compared to a traditional non-automated line. The Observatory of Automated Metros has identified these technical and management differences and issued recommendations for future fully automated operation (FAO) projects in a new report.
One of the main challenges for FAO projects is the particularly high level of systems integration required – even more so that in “conventional” projects, which already rely on complex systems. It is therefore crucial that the contractors’ scope of work cover all interfaces and integration activities at each specific phase of the project life cycle, the report underlines.
From traditional to FAO
The operation plan should clearly state how the automated metro will operate under normal, degraded mode and emergency conditions, in accordance to the organisation structure of the operator. It should include all the major tasks previously undertaken by the operator in traditional non-automated lines which are now replaced by automated system functions.
For operators of non-automated lines, putting in place the organisation structure is a significant challenge due to potential disruption and the cultural shift required from employees. This may require long negotiations and a lot of senior management’s time and resources.
While they are a challenge, changes and innovation in the organisation can become a strategic opportunity to develop a more sustainable organisation with highly satisfied and more committed employees. Therefore, this process has to be one of the top priorities in the project management of a FAO line, the report argues.
Communicating with the public
Among the other recommendations in the new report, there is also managing change outside the organisation. Special attention should be put to communicating with the public, which needs to be confident that the line is safe and reliable. This work should start as early as the concept phase of the project.
The key objective of metro automation is to increase the level of quality of service to passengers through greater flexibility in service deployment and optimising run-time of trains. In addition, automated systems with adequate redundancy built in are generally safer as human factors in safety-critical decisions are reduced.
The report is available to UITP members on the UITP online documentation centre.