CBTC from the start - Communication Based Train Control

12th March 2014 Conference
The Hatton London, UK
CBTC from the start:
28 years of SkyTrain in Vancouver
Ian R Graham
Manager (retiring) Operations Planning
Expo/Millennium Lines
BC Rapid Transit Company, Burnaby, Canada
12th March 2014 Conference
The Hatton London, UK
More than a signalling system
Ian R Graham
Manager (retiring) Operations Planning
Expo/Millennium Lines
BC Rapid Transit Company, Burnaby, Canada
Vancouver in context
• >3 decades of history and development since 1980 –
a different starting point now.
• Green field – a clean start.
• No regional interoperability issues.
• Proprietary technology, but generally applicable
Vancouver, Canada
• Canada’s 3rd largest city
• metro area 2.5 million in 2013
• 3 million by 2027?
• was 1.5 million in 1980 (SkyTrain decision)
• Urban Transportation Development Corporation
(UTDC), now part of Bombardier
– small lightweight cars
– steerable trucks
– linear induction motors (LIM)
• SelTrac S40 inductive loop ATC system (Thales)
– full operational dependence on primary system – no axle
counters or other “backup” systems.
– ongoing evolution of functionality around the original
system principles
Expo/Millennium Lines
• 1986: 21 km / 15 stns / 114 cars / 20M pass/year
• now: 49 km / 33 stns / 258 cars / 80M pass/year
• 2016: plus 11 km / 6 stns / 28 cars
• future: discussions of extensions; $$$?
Canada Line:
same but different
• opened in 2009
• separate line (non-interoperable), but integral part of
the transit system
• P3 project with 30 year concession
• 19 km / 16 stns / 40 cars (larger) / 40M pass/year
• Rotem cars, with AC rotary motors
• Seltrac ATC, similar to Expo/Millennium
• generally similar operational approach
5 km
5 mi
Evergreen Line
Canada Line
(2009 - separate
P3 operation)
Surrey extension
The commitment to automate
• Automation experience in the 1970’s
• High dependence on signalling in “manual” systems
• An attendant to watch a machine drive itself?
• Eliminating the cab – no turning back
Unattended Train Operation (UTO)
• SkyTrain is:
– not only automated
– not only driverless
– it operates trains primarily in unattended mode
• Unchaining the driver from the cab makes a
fundamental customer service difference.
• The SkyTrain system is not unstaffed;
– not about eliminating staff or unions
Operating staff levels
• BCRTC total 600 staff for O&M
• Operations staff on duty (per shift) for:
– 33 stations, 49 km, 22-57 trains
• Field:
– 38 SkyTrain Attendants (STAs)
– 4 Field Supervisors
– 1 Duty Manager
• Control:
– 7 Control Operators (ATC, power, alarms, communications)
– 1 Duty Manager
Original issues and concerns
• No driver to view the track ahead
– full track segregation
– intrusion detection system (no platform screen doors)
• No on-board personnel
– passenger security features (intercom, alarm, PA)
– door safety (positive interlocking; “pushback” feature)
– system reliability and redundancy
• Unattended stations
– design, CCTV, communications; passenger self-service
• => organizational confidence / public acceptance
CBTC/UTO achievements (1)
• throughput
108 sec. sustained AM/PM 3-hour peaks
96 sec. average, inner 6 stations, 2-hour AM peak
95 sec. target future headway
80 sec. “recovery” headway at terminus => 75 sec. potential
• increased service frequency
– same operating cost with shorter trains at higher frequency
=>less waiting time for passenger
• travel time (average in-service speed)
– optimized and consistent speed control =>shorter travel time
• headway consistency
– all “drivers” are the same => variation and bunching are reduced
CBTC/UTO achievements (2)
• delay recovery
– no recovery (rest) time required for drivers at end stations;
insertion of spare trains in front of delayed train
• schedule adjustments
– additions or reductions based on demand
• special events
– additional trains without extra drivers (some extra staff may still
be needed to manage crowds and supplement fare collection)
• alternative service (planned / unplanned)
– preplanned for maintenance, or unplanned for emergencies
CBTC/UTO achievements (3)
• safety
– automated train control minimizes routine human error,
although giving up opportunity for human discretion
• fleet productivity
– higher average speed and reduced end-station turnaround
means fewer vehicles, and smaller yard, to serve the same
• yard flexibility and productivity
– automation of storage lanes and some maintenance tracks allow
trains to be launched, returned, and inspected, with minimal
CBTC/UTO achievements (4)
• fault response
– SkyTrain Attendants (STAs) can deal with many train faults while
the train is still in service, minimizing delay or disruption
• passenger emergency
– STAs can respond to passenger emergencies
• customer assistance
– STAs available to assist customers with directions, information,
fare payment, etc.
Ongoing and future challenges
• Proprietary technology
• Technology obsolescence and upgrades
• Maintenance and upgrades of aging system
• Growth – getting better to stay the same
• “More than a signalling system” -- CBTC is not a “get
and forget” system
A rapid transit system is always a “work in progress”.
CBTC, and the related commitment to UTO, has
provided Vancouver with a successful, well-used,
efficient rapid transit system, and provided a relevant
reference point to other cities around the world.

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