South Korea’s driverless Uijeongbu LRT line opens

3 July 2012 (Last Updated July 3rd, 2012 18:30)

Uijeongbu Light Rail Transit (LRT) has opened an automatic light metro rail system using Siemens' Val system in the South Korean city of Uijeongbu.

VAL metro system

Uijeongbu Light Rail Transit (LRT) has opened an automatic light metro rail system using Siemens' Val system in the South Korean city of Uijeongbu.

The 11.1km fully automatic light rail system, known as the U Line, links eastern Uijeongbu to the city centre with an interchange with Line 1 of the Seoul metro at Hoeryong.

U Line is served by 15 stations and was built on a turnkey basis in private-public partnership (PPP) at a cost of KRW547bn ($475m) by a consortium comprising six South Korean companies led by GS Engineering & Construction.

Out of the total cost, KRW297.4bn ($258.4m) was provided by the consortium, while the remaining KRW249.6bn ($216.9m) came from taxes.

According to the South Korea's National Assembly Research Service (NARS), the rubber-wheeled LRT system will cost Uijeongbu city's taxpayers KRW10bn ($8.6m) a year over the next ten years.

"It is expected that ridership volumes in peak periods will rise to 6,400 an hour in each direction by 2040."

In November 2006, Siemens Transportation Systems (TS) won a €140m contract from Uijeongbu LRT to install a fully automatic Val metro system on the rail line system.

Siemens provided the automatic train control (ATC) system, the operations control centre, the depot and trackside equipment, as well as systems engineering and project management.

Siemens also delivered 15 two-unit rubber-tired VAL 208 vehicles, which will operate on the Uijeongbu line to transport 3,400 passengers an hour in each direction during peak periods.

Since the system does not require any drivers, it can operate 20 hours a day, with twin units running every 205 seconds at peak times.

Monitoring of the line will be done from the operations control centre through video cameras installed in the stations, along the line and in the passenger compartments. The control centre keeps a tab to the number of passengers along the line and if there is a surge in passenger numbers then the control centre can deploy additional trains.

Advantages of the VAL system include short headways under one minute, speeds of up to 80kmph, fast acceleration and short braking phases, while the rubber-tired VAL system is quieter compared to other rail systems in tight curve radii and it also allows fast starting and precision stops in stations.

It is expected that ridership volumes in peak periods will rise to 6,400 an hour in each direction by 2040.


Image: Val metro is a driverless system that can operate 20 hours a day, with twin units running every 205 seconds at peak times. Photo: courtesy of Siemens.