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CDGVAL – providing answers for quick and reliable transportation

Posted: 30 March 2009 | René Brun, Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport Managing Director | No comments yet

Eight terminals have been built successively over the last 30 years at Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport, making it one of the most extensive platforms in Europe. CDGVAL is a key part of the development of this vast complex, providing an answer to the need for quick and reliable transport between the terminals, regional and high-speed (TGV) railway stations and car parks.
Why did Aéroports de Paris decide to develop an automated metro?

With a top speed of 70km/h, CDGVAL allows the 60 million passengers a year who use the airport, as well as the platform’s 85,000 staff to move quickly between terminals. It is a safe, clean and free means of transport, available 24/7. Travel times are also greatly reduced (eight minutes to travel between the two termini, compared with 25 minutes by bus).

Eight terminals have been built successively over the last 30 years at Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport, making it one of the most extensive platforms in Europe. CDGVAL is a key part of the development of this vast complex, providing an answer to the need for quick and reliable transport between the terminals, regional and high-speed (TGV) railway stations and car parks. Why did Aéroports de Paris decide to develop an automated metro? With a top speed of 70km/h, CDGVAL allows the 60 million passengers a year who use the airport, as well as the platform's 85,000 staff to move quickly between terminals. It is a safe, clean and free means of transport, available 24/7. Travel times are also greatly reduced (eight minutes to travel between the two termini, compared with 25 minutes by bus).

Eight terminals have been built successively over the last 30 years at Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport, making it one of the most extensive platforms in Europe. CDGVAL is a key part of the development of this vast complex, providing an answer to the need for quick and reliable transport between the terminals, regional and high-speed (TGV) railway stations and car parks.

Why did Aéroports de Paris decide to develop an automated metro?

With a top speed of 70km/h, CDGVAL allows the 60 million passengers a year who use the airport, as well as the platform’s 85,000 staff to move quickly between terminals. It is a safe, clean and free means of transport, available 24/7. Travel times are also greatly reduced (eight minutes to travel between the two termini, compared with 25 minutes by bus).

Thanks to this transport system, Paris-Charles de Gaulle confirms its status as one of the best-equipped airports.

Who has Aéroports de Paris worked with to build, run and maintain the system?

Siemens Transportation Systems was contracted for the turnkey provision of line 1 of CDGVAL. This included the trains, the Central Control Centre, the automated features, track installations, the supply and installation of high and low currents and the provision and installation of panelling, as well as workshop equipment. Aéroports de Paris has contracted the running of the line to Aérosat, a joint subsidiary of Siemens Transportation Systems and Keolis.

These are two experienced companies with strong industry recognition. Siemens Transportation Systems is a constructor with 25 years experience in the field of automated metros, while Keolis is the world automated metro leader.

What are the technical characteristics of the lines and the vehicles?

This is an automated metro system running on tyres and using type VAL 208 NG vehicles.

Space constraints are usually tight in an airport zone, so the choice of this type of train (which is smaller than a traditional city metro) offers several advantages, including a reduced track footprint, a smaller infrastructure and lower civil engineering costs.

The service will consist of seven trains composed of two non-separable carriages (each 13 metres long). One train can carry 120 people. The whole system is very easily accessible to people with reduced mobility.

Regarding the interior layout of the trains, a choice was made to reduce the number of seats to a minimum (compared to a traditional city metro), in order to facilitate the circulation of passengers with their luggage.

The CDGVAL has a capacity of 2,000 passengers per hour in each direction. The type VAL 208 trains are already in service on the metro lines of Lille, Rennes and Toulouse. The system has also been proven internationally, since it is in use at Chicago airport.

The length of the twin-track line between the two termini is 3.6 kilometres. Five level-crossings allow vehicles to pass from one side of the track to the other.

How does the twin-track system with automated driving work?

The trains are driven by fixed automation installations along the line (one driver per inter-station). These automated installations are the latest generation, with digital control, and represent a major development compared with other automated networks of this type in the world.

There are numerous advantages to a computer-controlled system. It is more reliable and more easily upgradeable, which makes maintenance easier, so requiring smaller technical facilities.

These automated features also allow the use of a range of very-responsive fail-safe systems, so ensuring the continued running of the system in the event of a breakdown in part of the equipment.

What about passenger safety and security?

CDGVAL is fitted with a system of automatic doors that open only when the train has come to a complete stop in a station. It is therefore impossible to access the track without the presence of a train.

Safety of train movement is ensured by fixed installations. The safety mechanisms on board mean that each train respects the speed instructions given by the fixed installations.

For the rest, standard security systems are in place. The vehicles are fitted with cameras providing real-time images to the control centre, as well as recording on board the vehicles. The trains are of course fitted with intercoms allowing passengers to contact the control centre.

All of the vehicles’ doors are fitted with emergency handles allowing passengers to open the doors in the event of an incident.

What are the station platforms like?

The platforms are fitted with sliding doors along a 26-metre stretch (the length of the train). Emergency doors are fitted between the sliding doors; these would allow passengers to leave a train that was improperly halted in a station.

Dynamic information boards are fitted above the sliding doors. These can either work automatically or else be directly controlled by an operator from the control centre.

In what way does the CDGVAL have a positive impact on the environment?

The CDGVAL is a 100% electric means of transport and has largely replaced the shuttle bus system. This avoids emitting nearly 15 tonnes of nitrogen oxide and just under 2,500 tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere per year. There is also a substantial saving of nearly 750 tonnes of diesel. This is an important and necessary aspect for Paris Charles de Gaulle airport, which is ISO 14001 certified.