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12911202subway.jpg (Photo : www.crienglish.com)

Beijing will next year be deploying the first set of fully automatic, or driverless, subway trains in the Chinese mainland, according to Changchun Railway Vehicles Co. Ltd., a subsidiary of China CNR Corporation.

Changchun Railway Vehicles Co. Ltd. will be producing and delivering 60 such trains in May 2015. Designed in the shape of a dolphin to lower air resistance, the trains will be painted in a way that will "show off Beijing's features as an ancient city." Each train will be able to carry a maximum of 1,262 passengers and can travel with a top speed of 80 kilometers an hour.

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The new stainless steel trains are engineered to have the highest degree of independence and can operate automatically at all times without a driver. However, it is up to the operator to decide whether to use drivers on the new trains. Currently, most of the 17 metro lines in Beijing are already capable of running unmanned trains, but drivers are nonetheless posted at the wheel in case of emergencies.

China's first set of domestically manufactured driverless subway trains will be operating on Beijing's 10-station Yanfang Line that runs through southwestern suburbs. Y-shaped, the line starts at Yanhua Station and branches at Zhoukoudianzhen Station, then merges again at Raolefu Station before terminating at Yancun North Station where it connects to the Fangshan Line. The Yanfang Line will also be equipped with a communications-based train control (CBTC) system supplied by Beijing Traffic Control Technology

Beijing's Public Transportation Authority expects the trains to significantly increase the efficiency and safety in the city's metro system since they have a relatively more advanced operating system capable of greater precision than the earlier models.

The CNR says that the automation systems on the line will meet IEC 62267 standards at Grade of Automation (GOA) Level 4. The trains themselves are completely automated and can be programmed to carry out certain tasks like opening and closing doors for passengers.