Although fully automated metro solutions were initially deployed in low capacity lines, growth in the last decade corresponded mostly to medium and high capacity systems (see figure 4). Currently, close to 80% of the world’s automated metro infrastructure correspond to medium and high capacity lines, when considering the capacity of the trains. Most high capacity lines are deployed in Asia and Europe (see figure 5), with the significant exception of São Paulo’s Line 4 in Latin America: with over 32,000 passengers per hour per direction, it is one of the most heavily charged lines in the world.
CBTC has consolidated as the preferred signalling solution for fully automated metro lines. Currently, 68% of the world’s km of automated metro lines are operated using CBTC systems and even more significantly, close to three quarters of the new fully automated metro infrastructure built in the last decade was equipped with CBTC (see figure 6). Thales, with close to 250 km of automated metro lines equipped, is the market leader for fully automated metro lines, closely followed by Siemens (see figure 7).
The safety of the platform/track interface is crucial for fully automated metro lines. The installation of Platform Screen doors remains the dominant solution over track intrusion detection systems (see figure 8) since they prevent persons and objects from falling on the track, improving the performance of the line. Currently, 76% of stations in automated metro lines in operation are equipped with platform screen doors, a trend that is confirmed by the evolution in the last decade: only 15% of the stations inaugurated since 2006 are protected by intrusion detection systems.
As of 2016, 10 rolling stock suppliers serve the market for fully automated metro lines. Bombardier, Alstom and Siemens are the leading suppliers; serving with their trains close to 60% of the km of fully automated metro in operation (see figure 9). Asia is the most diversified market, with lines equipped by 9 different suppliers and no dominant market leader, whereas for Europe, North America and the Middle East, the market is concentrated in 3 or 2 suppliers.
There is no predominant alignment solution for automated metro lines; underground and elevated stations are fairly equally split, as depicted in figure 10. Over 60% of the stations inaugurated in the last decade, however, correspond to underground alignment. When considering the wheel/rail interface system, a majority of lines opt for steel wheels, as opposed to rubber-tyred trains: in the last decade, close to 70% of the km of new automated metro used steel wheel systems.