The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) in the US is planning to restore the automatic door opening feature on its passenger trains.
Although it was part of the original design of the Metrorail system, the feature was discontinued due to reliability issues.
In automatic-door mode, the train procures information about its exact location from transmitters installed on the rail track. Once the train is properly berthed at the station, the system opens the train doors on the appropriate side of the platform.
The resumption of automatic door operations will eliminate the possibility of the wrong door being opened due to human error.
According to WMATA, Metrorail operators initiate an ‘open doors’ command more than 20,000 times on a weekday, increasing the risk of opening the doors on the wrong side of the train.
Operators were trained to pause for several seconds before initiating the open doors command to mitigate the risk of an error, however, this led to delays to regular services.
The usage of an automatic system will eliminate the need for pauses.
In the following weeks, WMATA will continue with the testing of the automatic door operations to acquaint operators and ensure the reliability of the system. Following testing, it will be re-launched later this year.