Metrolab, a joint venture to develop the automated metro of the future
Pierre Mongin, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of RATP, and Philippe Mellier, President of Alstom Transport, announced the founding of Metrolab, a research laboratory dedicated to the automated metro of the future. The creation of this joint venture, owned equally by the RATP Group and Alstom Transport, is in line with the two groups’ intention to provide large cities with innovative and fully automated urban and suburban transport solutions, whether these concern new networks or renovations to existing systems.
Both groups have significant experience in assessing short- and medium-distance transport needs in densely or very densely populated areas. Their combined expertise will allow Metrolab to develop complete systems covering infrastructures, rolling stock, signalling, passenger information, operations and maintenance.
Solutions developed by Metrolab will be marketed by the RATP Group or Alstom Transport under the name of Optimet. Metrolab will in its initial phase employ a staff of 15 experts in complex urban transport system integration. It will be supervised by two general managers, François Jasmin (RATP) and Didier Valiere (Alstom Transport). The Board of Directors will be chaired on a rotating basis: Marc Chatelard (Alstom Transport) will be the first Chairman, and he will be succeeded by Yves Ramette (RATP).
The company’s budget will be financed in equal parts by the two partners’ capital. The first research results are due to come to fruition in 2013 with a “demonstration” metro train set.
RATP Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Pierre Mongin commented after the announcement of the creation of Metrolab: “I am very happy with this strategic agreement between two major companies whose technical skills are complementary and whose expertise is globally recognised. In a world where urban transport needs are increasing, Metrolab will allow us to design a new generation of metros matching the needs of the major cities of tomorrow. RATP will contribute its expertise as operator and maintainer to help serve complex urban networks, combining service quality and complete safety.”
“Alstom is pleased to combine its 70 years of international metro experience with the expertise of the RATP Group, one of the world’s leading operators”, said Philippe Mellier, President of Alstom Transport. “With Metrolab, we are preparing to meet the future needs of a market that appears particularly promising given that by 2015, over 500 cities worldwide will exceed one million inhabitants.”
The automated metro, a growing market
There is currently a great deal of renewed interest in automated metros around the world. The congestion of metro lines, linked to exploding urban demographics, is a real challenge for cities. One of the most effective solutions for preventing the saturation of networks and increasing their transport capacity is to automate signalling and metro operation. This makes it possible to increase the frequency of train sets, thus reducing waiting time between metros, whilst still offering complete safety and maximum comfort. The increasing complexity of technical solutions and infrastructure projects is leading more and more customers to demand comprehensive turnkey solutions. It is this type of solution, which guarantees overall cost and timeframe, that the research conducted at Metrolab will target. Both companies have a great deal of experience in this area, having already carried out similar projects in Singapore, Lausanne, Cairo, Shanghai, Caracas and Paris.
Unparalleled combined expertise in metro systems
RATP has unparalleled expertise in the design and innovation (rubber-tyred metro, automated metro, etc.), construction, operation and maintenance of metros. The metro networks of several major cities (Montreal, Santiago de Chile, Mexico City, etc.) were designed by RATP teams. Following on from the service launch of one of the largest automated metro lines in the world (Line 14 of the Paris metro), RATP is continuing to innovate by automating one of the highest-traffic metro lines in Paris: Line 1.
One out of every four metros operating worldwide is an Alstom metro. In 70 years, Alstom has equipped over 45 cities in this way. Over 4,000 Métropolis cars have been ordered since the product line was launched in 1998.