Look out, world! Made-in-China subway trains with no driver needed are scheduled to be rolled out in Beijing sometime later this year.
Local authorities in the Chinese capital confirmed on Friday that the 16.6-km long Yanfang Line will be opened to the public sometime in 2017. The line is aimed at helping commuters in the city’s southwestern suburb of Fangshan.
Once completed, it will become the first “fully domestically developed automated subway line on the Chinese mainland,” according to Xinhua, forced to caveat because the China-made driverless trains were first introduced in the Hong Kong MTR late last year. They were unveiled last February in Qingdao by CCRC Qingdao Sifang, a Chinese company that specializes in high-speed trains.
Head technician Jiang Xin said that not only are the trains safe, they “can actually run more safely and effectively compared to trains controlled by humans.”
“These trains can not only help reduce operational failures caused by human error but also help avoid accidents caused by factors such as driver fatigue or sudden illness of staff,” he added.
Which is exactly why these sort of trains have been introduced across the world, from Tokyo to Copenhagen, starting in the 1960s. There are even some “driverless” subway lines already operating in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, but a CRRC technician argues that these lines still require operators, plus the core technology for the trains was developed by foreign companies — unlike the homegrown driverless metro carriages which will be introduced sometime this year in China’s capital.
The Beijing Subway has big plans for the future, including connecting up with neighboring cities in Hebei province by 2021. Bad news for locals who complain about “outsider bitches.”
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