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CBTC Project

Photo of a train with the installed system

In Metropolitan Railway operation the development that has taken place in signalling has been relatively slow since 1841 with the appearance of manual locking. The general architecture implemented nowadays employs lateral signalling supplemented with an automatic train protection and operation system (ATP/ATO), as well as a Centralized Traffic Control (CTC) command post.

The most recent technological change has been the development of the Communications Based Train Control (CBTC) systems. Implementation of this technology is steadily forging ahead worldwide due to the demonstration of the benefits that are obtained in metropolitan rail transport system, including not only enhanced operating performance but also increased passenger carrying capacity.

This increased carrying capacity is brought about by the possibility of operating trains with a shorter interval between them, whilst also assuring a safe inter-train distance and enhancing traffic control flexibility.

Metro de Madrid has opted for this CBTC technology in the quest for upgrading the lines close to their maximum passenger carrying capacity, as is the case of Line 1 and Line 6.

CBTC is a pioneering system in which the major difference in respect of conventional systems lies in two-way communication between the train and the ground equipment located all along the track, thereby improving train operation and supervision. It monitors the exact position and speed of all trains running in real time, transmitting the respective forward movement and braking orders individually to each one. This entails a complete optimization of the train operating interval and an increased running speed, while still maintaining high levels of safety.

For its implementation this technology requires a powerful, permanent train radio communications and fibre optic network, track units, local IT control equipment and Command Post control systems.

These conversion jobs have entailed a substantial investment effort due to the laying of tunnel cables in both directions, installation of the electronic equipment needed in all the cars of every train running on these lines, and the implementation of the radio beacons and units required in the tunnels and at stations, as well as new computer servers at the Command Post to handle the whole system.

The system has been put into service at Metro de Madrid on both lines without the need for line or station closures, without interruptions in the passenger service, and without affecting the perceived quality of service. All this was achieved by means of the development of a working methodology that has been the subject of study by numerous operators worldwide and the reason behind innumerable visits to the Metro de Madrid network in these last few years. This method is therefore known as Zero Closures. 

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