Community of Metros News: Welcome to Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority

Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) in Washington DC, USA, has joined the Community of Metros as part of the North American Sub-Group. The North American Sub-Group brings together metro operators in North America to collaborate on benchmarking and focus on challenges particularly affecting operators in the region.

Network Map of the Washington Metro (2018)

WMATA provides fully-accessible metro rail service across three jurisdictions in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia, in addition to MetroBus and MetroAccess services in the region. WMATA is a nationally important public transport operator in the United States, providing the third largest metro system in the United States based on ridership (after New York City and Chicago), with approximately 180 million annual trips. It was created through a dedicated Compact in 1965 and the metro network opened in 1976 on a 7.4km, 5 station segment of the Red Line. Its original design consisted of 83 stations and approximately 160km of network length, and was delivered in phases until 2001: operations began in 1977 on the Blue Line, in 1978 on the Orange Line, in 1983 on the Yellow Line, in 2000 on the Green Line and 2014 on the Silver Line. The Blue, Orange and Silver Lines interline on some sections of route. The system is approximately 40% underground, particularly in the high-density District of Columbia, and its current fleet consists of approximately 1150 cars.

WMATA continues to add to the diversity of the Community of Metros, increasing the number of peers in North America and joining other “middle-aged” metros. One of WMATA’s notable practices is its focus on measuring and reporting its performance to customers across areas of service quality, safety, security and financial responsibility. Customers use the SmarTrip farecard to pay for their journeys on WMATA metro and bus services, and data from the SmarTrip system is used to calculate service quality indicators, such as customer on-time performance (known as “MyTripTime”). WMATA then analyses the sources of delay affecting this figure and identifies key actions to improve performance.

WMATA’s future strategic plans for the metro focus on delivering more capacity and reliability. Initiatives such as core station improvements to accommodate all eight-car trains during peak periods, adding passageways, escalators and stairs to improve passenger experience in stations, adding new Blue Line connections to reduce waiting times and adding pocket tracks and crossovers at key points on the network to deliver greater operational flexibility and resilience. The Community of Metros hopes to be a valuable source of knowledge and best practices to WMATA as it continues with these future initiatives, as well as its ongoing extensive Back2Good programme to improve total service provision to customers.

Community of Metros News: Vancouver SkyTrain Joins

Vancouver SkyTrain has joined the Community of Metros as part of the Nova consortium as of September 2016. SkyTrain is the oldest and one of the longest fully-automated driverless metro systems in the world. Vancouver is the largest city in western Canada and the centre of the Lower Mainland region in the province of British Columbia, which comprises a total of 2.6 million inhabitants.

The SkyTrain network consists of three medium-capacity metro lines totalling 79km with 53 stations. The Expo and Millennium Lines are directly operated by member BCRTC (the British Columbia Rapid Transit Company, a subsidiary of regional transport authority TransLink), while the Canada Line is operated by private-sector contractor ProTrans BC through a PPP arrangement. The total system transports nearly 120m annual boardings as part of a integrated multimodal public transport network that include a large bus network, the West Coast Express commuter rail line, and the SeaBus ferry service.

The system first opened in 1985 for the World Exposition (Expo86) with the Expo Line from downtown Vancouver to New Westminster. The line was expanded in the late 1980s and early 1990s across the Fraser River to Surrey. The Millennium Line was the second line opened in 2002, forming a loop with the Expo Line. The 19km, 16-station Canada Line was built in advance of the 2010 Winter Olympics using a PPP arrangement. It opened in 2009 and links the city centre with the airport and major satellite city (Richmond) along what had been one of the city’s busiest bus corridors.

At the start of December 2016 the 11km Evergreen Extension to the Millennium Line will open in the northeast part of the Vancouver area. In advance of this opening in October 2016 Expo and Millennium Line services will be reconfigured, reducing the overlapping section to downtown Vancouver.

The SkyTrain network is fully accessible, with step-free access to all stations and trains. The Expo and Millennium Lines use Bombardier Advanced Rapid Transit technology, which uses linear induction motors and delivers fast and very frequent service with relatively smaller, lower-capacity trains. The same technology is also used by Nova member Kuala Lumpur RapidKL on the Kelana Jaya Line. The Canada Line uses conventional AC motor technology with larger cars operating two-car trains.

Future plans for the SkyTrain network include adding capacity with additional rolling stock and potential extensions as well as managing ageing infrastructure that is now more than 30 years old. One such extension project is the Millennium Line Broadway Extension, which would add 6km and 6 stations underground and link the Millennium Line to the Canada Line along what is currently one of the busiest bus corridors in North America.

Community of Metros News: Shenzhen Metro Joins

Shenzhen Metro has joined the Community of Metros as part of the Nova consortium. Shenzhen Metro (SZMC) operates Lines 1, 2, 3 and 5 in Shenzhen, which comprises 158km and 107 stations. Line 4 is operated separately by MTR, but is from a customer perspective part of the same metro system. The total system (including Line 4) is already carrying an estimated 600-700m annual passenger journeys.

The system first opened in 2004, and expanded dramatically by over 100km in 2011 (before Shenzhen hosted the 2011 Summer Universiade). The network has been stable since 2011, but there are several new lines under construction, with multiple new lines to open in 2016.

Shenzen Metro Map

Shenzhen is a city of about 10 million in the south of Guangdong Province, adjacent to Hong Kong and less than 100 miles southeast of Guangzhou. Shenzhen Metro is a key part of what may be the most metro-connected megalopolis in the world – it directly links in two places to Hong Kong’s East Rail Line (the first time two Community of Metros members in different cities interchange!), and there are plans in the not-so-distant future to also connect Shenzhen Metro to the Dongguan Metro, which itself will connect to the Guangzhou Metro at its other end.

Shenzhen Metro is already working on plans to attend the next Nova meeting, which will be hosted by the Docklands Light Railway in London in September 2015.

CoMET and Nova News: CoMET Management Meeting in Mexico City

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Mexico City’s Mayor addresses CoMET members in an official reception at the City Hall

Representatives of 15 of the world’s largest metros met this week in Mexico City to share good practice and agree on future directions for cooperative research. The meeting included a technical visit of Mexico City Metro’s facilities, including the control centre, the surveillance centre, and examples of rubber-tyred and steel-wheeled lines.

Imperial College London presented updates on latest research, including key performance indicators with a special focus on the host metro. Members were updated on research topics including dwell time management, unattended train operations, and the impacts of major projects on the existing metro.

The CoMET group also welcomed Singapore SMRT as a new member. SMRT has been a member of the Nova group for small and medium-size metros for many years, and with 690 million passenger journeys in 2012, has now grown to a size comparable with CoMET metros. Their move to CoMET will enable them to continue their valuable contributions to metro benchmarking.

Metro News: Preventing fare evasion in Moscow

Moscow Metro has recently completed trial operation of devices that prevent jumping over turnstiles.  The devices are inexpensive triangular steel structures installed on top of the turnstile, which prevent fare evaders jumping over the turnstiles by leaning on the turnstile’s cover with their hands.

According to observations of metro workers since the trial began in Tsaritsyno station, incidents of jumping over the turnstiles has dramatically reduced, and revenues from the sale of tickets at cashier office had increased. If the full analysis shows positive results, these devices will be installed in other busy metro stations.

Fare evasion prevention pyramids
Pyramids prevent jumping over the barriers

Metro News: Sydney’s unique contract design underpins train performance

About half of Sydney’s suburban fleet has been replaced, in a $3.5Bn Public-Private Partnership (PPP). It is the largest passenger fleet procurement in Australian history, replacing non-air-conditioned rolling stock and providing for future growth. This required a robust commercial and operational framework for a contract term which exceeds 30 years.

In 2004, the NSW railway operator RailCorp took an innovative approach. At the very beginning of the procurement process, rather than at the typical point of signing contracts, it appointed a project delivery leader to establish an integrated commercial, operational, technical and delivery management team. This has been a main contributor to a successful PPP contract, which was structured to underpin safety, quality control, and reliability over 30 years. This specialist team provided input into the final contract design and performance specifications based on previous new fleet deployments.  The delivery team has also proved invaluable in overseeing implementation, from the build phase through to passenger service.

One of the unique features of this PPP contract is that it does not contain typical liquidated damages penalties (although, the separate contract between the consortium’s manufacturer and TLS provider does include liquidated damages).  Instead, the contract relies on several ‘incentivising’ payment mechanisms aligned to drive desired performance outcomes. The payment system promotes behaviour that reduces the need for the NSW railways operator to actively enforce the contract. At the heart of the contract are performance-based payments that require 72 of the 78 trains to be made available for passenger service each day. Until the trains are provided and available, Sydney RailCorp makes no payment to Reliance Rail for them.

Another significant factor has been a comprehensive operational-readiness programme. This involved stakeholder and expert consultation during the development phase, to integrate contract requirements with the operational requirements of the operating railway.  This readiness programme involved over 20 enabling projects including people & change management initiatives to support operational efficiencies and the deployment of the new fleet.

These measures have led to one of the smoothest new fleet deployments in the history of NSW. In just over 14 months, 14 eight-car double deck trains (which include 1 spare set) have been introduced into passenger service and accumulated more than a million kilometres in service.  Feedback and internal surveys indicate customers rate the Waratah train as the best train for performance and comfort amongst all existing fleet, including other recent fleet acquisitions. Similarly feedback from crew about the Waratah trains has been positive with train performance in line with expectations.

Metro News: Metro Rio’s “Pit Stop/Bogie Drop” Replacement System

Metro Rio has recently begun using an innovative system for bogie replacement. In the 1980s, Metro Rio rolling stock’s bogies were replaced using four hydraulic jacks (15 tons capacity each) to lift a 42 tonne metro car and drop the bogie. This equipment was obsolete, unreliable and sometimes unsafe. Furthermore, there was no feature to synchronize the rise/descent of the 4 jacks, thus making it a complex operation. These factors lead Metro Rio to develop a different system to replace bogies using a lifting platform coupled to two hydraulic jacks. This system required the maintenance team to uncouple the specific car from the rest of the train to replace bogies, and this single car could only be moved with a maintenance vehicle (as there is no third rail inside the rolling stock maintenance area).

Recently Metro Rio has acquired a new fleet (19 trains with 6 cars) which uses semi-permanent couplings. The process of uncoupling these is time-consuming, making the current bogie replacement process not very effective. That led Metro Rio to design and construct a new bogie replacement system.

Metro Rio's pit stop bogie replacement system
Metro Rio’s pit stop bogie replacement system

The new bogie replacement system is called “pit stop.” A complete train can get into this system without any maintenance vehicle support as the bogie drop facility is located in a single dedicated track with power supply. The bogie is removed without having to uncouple the cars, reducing the downtime considerably. The “pit stop/bogie drop” is particularly useful when a bogie failure happens during service hours and is necessary to get the train back into revenue operation very quickly.

Train using the pit stop system
Train using the pit stop system

Metro News: Improving service through automation in Paris

The automation of Line 1, the Paris Métro’s oldest and most popular line, with 725,000 passengers per day, has been achieved without any major interruption to service. This technological change has become necessary to deal with the steady increase in passenger traffic.

With the automation, Line 1’s passengers will benefit from a more responsive and regular transport service, ensuring greater safety and comfort. One of the main benefits of automation is the line’s ability to react instantly to an increase in passengers and provide the number of trains required for the optimum operation of the line.

The automation is expected to improve commercial speed by 4% and because fewer trains will be needed for the same headway, will achieve 6% rolling stock savings. The system also has the potential to reduce minimum headway by 20%. Not having a driver’s cab will also increase passenger capacity by 6%, even without any headway improvements.

The installation of platform screen doors on all the lines’ platforms contributes significantly to the smooth running of the line, avoiding interruptions associated with track intrusions, while also enhancing passenger safety. The migration process combined both automatic and manually driven trains on the same line, with all trains automated since January 2013. It is a world first given the importance of the line.

The project to automate line 1, launched in 2004, is part of the huge modernisation programme that RATP will be undertaking over the next twenty years. The project will allow the company to meet growing demand and to satisfy its customers’ expectations in terms of safety, comfort, regularity, flexibility and information, at a time when RATP is seeking ways of anticipating and/or remedying network saturation.

New rolling stock and control centre on Line 1
New rolling stock and control centre on Line 1

CoMET and Nova News: Introducing Istanbul Ulasim

In 2012 Nova welcomed Istanbul Ulasim to the group. Istanbul is the largest city in Turkey, with a population of 13 million people making 27 million daily trips of which 13% are made by rail.

The rail-based network in Istanbul comprises 8 rail-based lines which include metro, light rail, and tram. The metro lines, M1 (red), M2 (green), M3 (blue( and M4 (pink), are included in the Nova membership. Line M5 (purple) is currently under construction. With the recent opening of the Marmaray tunnel linking M4 (Asian side) with the European side of Istanbul, this metro becomes the world’s first inter-continental metro network.

Metro Facts:

  • 25 million car km in 2012
  • 175 million passenger journeys in 2012
  • 77% customer satisfaction
  • 62% of journeys made using the Akbil smartcard

Istanbul Ulasim will benefit from Nova and CoMET through the ability to share good practices and learn from other fast-growing metros in large cities in South America and Asia.

Istanbul Ulasim network map
Istanbul Ulasim network map

CoMET and Nova News: Nova welcomes Rapid KL, Kuala Lumpur

With the Nova group expanding to 17 members in 2013, the group is pleased to welcome Rapid KL from Kuala Lumpur.

RapidKL operates two metro lines in Kuala Lumpur – the Ampang line, and the Kelana Jaya Line. Together, the two lines provide a 55km network that is integrated with both the suburban rail lines and the monorail in Kuala Lumpur. The image below shows their network at the time of joining.

Rapid KL's network on joining Nova
Rapid KL’s network on joining Nova

The Kelana Jaya line uses Unattended Train Operation, adding to the Nova and CoMET groups’ experience in this area.