Brussels driverless metro will not be possible until 2032 at the earliest

Brussels driverless metro will not be possible until 2032 at the earliest
Credit: STIB

The difficult works on Brussels' metro line 3 are delaying the arrival of an automated metro in Brussels, which was supposed to be fully rolled out for the first time in 2030 – but that is no longer a realistic goal, according to the public transport company STIB.

The company previously suggested that metro line 3 would be operated fully automatically in 2030, but due to difficulties with the construction works, that automation will not take place until 2032 "at the earliest."

"In theory, we can already automate metro 1 and 5 earlier, but that is a political decision. In theory, we will be ready to automate those lines by 2025," STIB spokesperson Guy Sablon told Bruzz. In 2025, a test phase on those lines is planned: the metro will then run automatically between Erasmus and Coovi.

Initially, the intention was to have metro 1 and 5 run automatically on the entire line, but due to budgetary reasons, STIB had instead opted for the automatic roll-out of metro line 3. However, it will take several more years before the work on line 3 will be completed.

Installing platform walls

Such an automated metro would ensure a higher frequency on the network, with a metro running every 90 seconds – a one-minute gain compared to now.

These metros no longer have a driver; everything will then be guided in the right direction by a modern signalling system that shows where each metro train is located, explained Sablon. That system should be fully modernised by 2024.

An automatic metro station also includes platform walls (transparent screens that separate the track and the platform) with gates that only open when the metro arrives. "That means that the metro train knows exactly where to stop."

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So far, platform walls have only been installed in three metro stations (Erasmus, Eddy Merckx and Coovi) as part of the test phase on metro lines 1 and 5. These walls also ensure that travellers cannot end up on the tracks in any way. To install these platform walls, it is important that all metro stations look the same: the doors must be in the same places and the driver's cabin must also be modernised.

Currently, several different kinds of metro trains are still being operated. "That is why STIB ordered 43 adapted metro trains years ago. We now own half of them, these are the so-called M7 trains. The remaining 22 metro trains will be built this year. They will be delivered to STIB in a year and a half."

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