Why driverless Delhi Metro train crashing into a wall is worrisome

The latest incident, in a country where public safety is often the last priority for authorities, is scary.

 |  3-minute read |   19-12-2017
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About a month after being granted safety approval by the commissioner for Metro Rail Safety (CMRS), an unmanned Delhi Metro train on the yet-to-be-inaugurated Magenta Line derailed, crashing into a wall.

The incident happened during a trial run on the line which, once completed, will connect Botanical Garden with Janakpuri West, covering a distance of 38.23km.

The first section of the Magenta Line, connecting Botanical Garden with Kalkaji, will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 25.

This accident comes at a time when excitement around the new generation driverless trains is rising. However, the latest incident may serve as a setback for now. The thought of riding on driverless trains in a country where public safety is often the last on the list of priorities for authorities was, in any case, enough to scare the daylights out of most commuters.

This accident, the reasons for which remain a matter of investigation, may further delay the introduction of the unmanned trains.

Driverless trains have been a part of public transport in many developed countries for some time now. In India, the idea took flight in the summer of 2015 when the first driverless six-coach train arrived in New Delhi from South Korea.

By the end of 2015, 20 such six-coach train sets were manufactured by Hyundai Rotem, a South Korea-based company.

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DMRC's new generation driverless trains, to begin with, will run between Botanical Garden and Kalkaji, where an advanced Communication Based Train Control signalling technology, facilitating movement of trains with a frequency of 90-100 seconds, will be pressed into service.

According to the existing plan, initially, drivers are going to be deputed in these trains to ensure smooth operation. However, gradually, they will be withdrawn, moving to unattended train operations. While the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) has confirmed the incident, it has clarified there is no need to panic. But it will be difficult for passengers not to panic when they actually hop on the train knowing it is unmanned, especially in the backdrop of today's (December 19) accident.

The Metro staff is currently exploring technical reasons to ascertain the reason for the derailment. About 30 lakh people use the Metro in the national capital region every day to travel to work, meet friends or just get home. That's too big a number to take lightly.

We hope the reasons are ascertained quickly and fixed for everyone to enjoy a faster, but more importantly, safer commute.

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