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The VAL system was the first totally automatic transit system opened in France. This paper examines the reasons behind the development and application of the VAL technology to date. The technology is described including the vehicles, guideway and supporting equipment, as well as its operating system. The paper concludes with a review of the experimental operation of the first section of the line and the public's reaction.

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... It is thus possible to achieve an availability comparable with that of a subway with a driver or guard on board. (Tremong, 1985) Source : (CUDL, 2001) Landing doors in a station on viaduct Landing doors and comfort accessibility ...
Technical Report
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Since 1981, about twenty automatic urban transport of conventional type systems are under operation in actual urban centre services and several systems are planned or under construction (Turin, Lausanne). In all the cases, these are systems running on segregated right of way, fully automated, with quite different vehicle characteristics. The application of fully automated driverless operation to the new transit systems is the consequence of a research of technical performances (high speeds, reducing intervals between trains, increasing safety) not possible with manually operated trains. Indeed, at the peak hours on the urban metro of Paris and other networks in the world, most of the lines have been manually operated for twenty years yet automatically at least at peak hours, that is to say at those where operation must be the most efficient and where drivers would have to apply more concentration than humanly possible. The user benefits from the high frequency brought by full automation, avoiding long waiting times in station. This quality gives further attraction to public transport. In addition, this high frequency also can be obtained at off-peak hours by cutting trains between peak and off-peak hours which brings operation supplementary flexibility. High frequency of passage has another advantage on civil engineering costs of transit systems : at equal capacity the light rail (Grenoble type) running with 3 unit trains every 4 minutes offers a capacity of 7800 p/h/d, the AGT (VAL type) running with 1 unit train with an interval of 72 seconds offers a 8000 p/h/d1 capacity. In the first case the platform length is 90 m, in the second case the platform length is 26 m. The innovations brought to the traditional modes of transport system have greatly spurred the improvement of the networks productivity. The rapid progress of technologies linked to the electronics and computing leads to increased gains in productivity bestowing on the public transport networks a growing tendency to automation. The objectives to minimise the costs of a means of transport, adapted to a demand whose importance and structure normally justify a metro, all by giving to users a high service quality have permitted to define for Lille the small gauge of VAL's system, its short passing headway at the peak hour and the technical and economical necessity to conceive its automatic integral control. This type of driverless automation on board, has given place to particular technical solutions which would not be the same for other metros manually operated : ie. the landing doors on the platforms, the numerous redundancies of certain equipment items allowing to guaranty a very high availability without need of an immediate human intervention and the necessity to highly develop the means of monitoring and communication. April 1983 : the Lille subway opens for commercial operation. Experimental operation with the public had been going since April 1982. The VAL system, for which the LILLE SUBWAY constitutes the first application, is thus one of the first entirely automatic urban transport systems, that is to say, without any staff being permanently placed on the trains or in the stations.
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