Dubai: The growing number of suicides on metro tracks in India could be avoided if a new advanced technology and communications system, which provides for driverless trains and quick response to prevent such accidents, is put in place.
Thales Group, which has an impeccable track record in Dubai and other cities - where it provides supervision, communications, and security and fare collection facilities, has offered India its advanced Communications-based train control (CBTC) system.
With the CBTC system, metro trains can run without a driver and all controls are managed from a centralised office which monitors all the tracks and train movements.
Incidents of suicides have been on the rise inside Delhi Metro premises for the past few months. The first week of May alone saw four such incidents, prompting authorities to take steps to stop them in future.
France-based Thales Group, which plans to bid for the next phase of Delhi Metro as well as the Hyderabad metro among others, feels this technology would help India immensely.
"The aim is to reduce the waiting period between two trains to 90 seconds. Our signalling system and CBTC provide for safe and on-time travel. The delay caused by fog in winters would not happen if this technology is used," Eric Lenseigne, country director of Thales India Private Limited, told a group of visiting reporters.
CBTC is already in use in Dubai where no accidents or cases of suicide have been reported so far.
"We do allow people to have access to tracks. Screen doors have been built at stations which block people from going towards the tracks. Even the staff and workers working on the tracks are not allowed when trains are plying," Ali Abdul Qader Mohammed Saeed, Director, Road Transport Authority (RTA), Government of Dubai, said.
Interestingly, the glass screen doors were built to keep out sand and heat from the metro stations.
With high temperatures in the desert region, all metro stations are fully airconditioned.
Since the number of commuters will rise with the passage of time due to continuing hike in petroleum prices; improving connectivity of metro rail in the wake of its expansion, speed and better communication systems would be required.
Here the significance of the technology being offered by Thales becomes significant.
"This system has performed very, very well. There is 99 per cent punctuality," said Dubai RTA CEO Adnan Al Hammadi.
The reaction time of a driver would be not as good as that if a machine and with train speeds set to increase further, superior technology and communication systems would be required to prevent accidents.
Dubai Metro, stretching over 74 km and having 47 stations, has unmanned trains.
"There is only a conductor to check tickets and ensure that nobody enters the coach meant for women and children and the VIPs," Hammadi said.
Thales already has a presence in India as it provides the fare collection technology to Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC).
It also supplies Passenger Information Display Systems (PIDS) and Public Address Systems (PAS) to DMRC.
Thales also provides communication systems to the Versoya-Andheri-Ghatkopar metro corridor in Mumbai and the supervision system to Bengaluru metro.