Local Heart, Global Soul

April 24, 2014

Playing At Being The Train Driver…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

One interesting thing about my hotel being out at Bercy Village in Paris is that my metro stop is Cour Saint-Émilion.

Ok, nothing too interesting there, but the line that this station is on is.

Paris Métro line 14 is the only Paris Métro line to be completely automated since the opening of the line. Automated in this case means driver-less!

There’s already an indication that something a little different is going on as soon as you descend into the station: instead of the usual “open” space between the platform and the train, there is in this case a massive perspex wall he whole length of the platform that has sliding doors in it at various intervals.

This is to stop passengers from falling onto the tracks. When the train comes into the station it’s programmed so that the train doors match up with the sliding doors, which once the train is stationary, open automatically.

After a short pause both the platform doors and the train doors close and the train departs. Because the trains on these lines have no drivers, it is possible to nab a seat in the very first carriage and if you are quick, a seat right at the very front by the glass window that faces down the tunnel. The glass was very thick, but I managed to take two little video clips from one of these front seats (which I had all to myself because it was fairly early on a Sunday morning and the train had very few passengers).

The videos give you the same view of the Paris Métro that a train driver would have, and I at least thought that that was rather cool. (I must have “geek” written all over me LOL). From the Paris Métro website I learned: “The line opened in October 1998 and the Line 14 tunnel passes underneath seven Métro lines, the sewers, Clichy-Capucines, four underground carparks and over two RER lines and on average 450,000 passengers take the line on working days.

Usually the line operates without problem but there have been several accidents. While the platform doors prevent access to the rails, they are susceptible to electric outages which have halted service entirely. Fortunately these incidents have been comparatively rare.

I liked the station at Cour Saint-Émilion, I was just a few short stops from the city centre and getting around Paris from this area was easy and relaxed. so much so I’d be keen to come back to this area on any future trip to Paris.

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