A Sydney Metro driverless train passed a “historic test” yesterday, crossing the future transport system’s new railway bridge over Windsor Road at Rouse Hill.
The test, dubbed by Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Andrew Constance as “the milestone we’ve all been waiting for”, marks an expansion of the train trials which have so far clocked up around 10,000 kilometres.
“How incredible is this? That impressive new bridge over Windsor Road now has our driverless metro train doing test runs across it, meaning Metro is really becoming a reality,” Constance said.
“This is a historic moment that will help change the way we get around our great city for generations to come,” he added.
Sydney Metro is Australia’s biggest public transport project, a $8.3 billion standalone railway network which will connect 31 metro stations with more than 66 kilometres of new rail.
To date, nine of the network’s 22 autonomous trains have been delivered from manufacturer Alstom, similar to the ones seen in 25 cities worldwide including Paris, Dubai and Hong Kong.
When the network is complete the 240 tonne trains will be monitored from a central operations control centre.
Trains are initially being tested at speeds of 60km/h on the Skytrain – the first cable-stayed railway bridge built on a curve in Australia, similar in design to Anzac Bridge – but test speeds will eventually ramp up to 100km/h.
After trials on the current stretch towards Kellyville Station are complete, tests will then progress into new twin 15km railway tunnels between Bella Vista and Epping. The Sydney Metro operator will then have to be accredited by regulator, the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator.
Sydney Metro is due to open in the first half of next year in the north west – with 13 stations and a train every four minutes in peak hours. The network will be extended into the city and beyond to Bankstown in 2024.
“Sydney Metro is on track to open in the first half of next year – we’re getting on with the job of testing our new generation trains and finishing our stations to deliver a world class mass transit system to Sydney,” Constance said.
The network will be the first fully automated metro rail system in Australia, but not the country’s first driverless rail system.
That title goes to miner Rio Tinto which last week completed its first driverless train delivery of iron ore between the miner’s Mount Tom Price mine and the port of Cape Lambert.
Autonomous trains are fairly common across the Asia Pacific region, with fully driverless operations in China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Malaysia, Taipei, South Korea and Singapore.
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