Shanghai Electric Powers Trial Operations for China's First Digital Rail-guided Tram Equipped with iDRT System

1 February 2021

Trial operations officially commenced for the Shanghai Pilot Free Trade Zone T1 Demonstration Line in the Lin-gang New Area. As one of the companies involved in the construction of the T1 Demonstration Line, Shanghai Electric Automation Group, a member of Shanghai Electric Group Company Limited, developed China's first intelligent digital-rail transport system ("iDRT") for the digital rail-guided rubber-tired tram ("DRT") used on the line. Shanghai Electric supplied the digital track, operation management system, network communications system, communications backbone, intelligent platform system and control center for the demonstration line; as well as managing the supply, installation and other services related to electromechanical systems.

The T1 Demonstration Line spans nine stations across a total length of 21.7 kilometers, and is expected to be fully operational to the public by June this year. The vehicle is China's first to adopt the DRT system, a world-leading technology that uses sensors on the tram to collect information from magnetic markers on the road's surface, guide the vehicle's position in real-time, and control the direction of the rubber tires as the vehicle moves. In a significant leap forward for green transportation in the Lin-gang New Area, the T1 Demonstration Line will commence operations on pure electric power while hydrogen refueling stations are being constructed, with plans to fully switch to hydrogen power once applicable.

The demonstration line uses world-leading magnetic nail navigation and under-vehicle sensor technology, which boasts a short construction period and less road surface occupation, while also delivering significant energy savings and emission reductions. The DRT requires just half the construction investment for traditional trams, meeting the ambition of the Lin-gang New Area to create a green, intelligent and extensive transportation ecosystem.

At the core of the T1 Demonstration Line is a new lightweight, intelligent medium-capacity digital-rail transit system that uses magnetic markers as virtual tram tracks, leverages autonomous digital rail-guided rubber tire trams as vehicles, and adopts modern tram operation control methods. The operation control and management system boasts automatic tracking, auxiliary operations and safety as its main features, powered by high-precision sensor positioning technology, centralized control technology, and intelligent transportation management technology.

As a result, the iDRT can control the operation of the tram along the digital track with world-leading precision, and drive autonomously under independent right-of-way conditions. The vehicle is able to adjust its speed, avoid barriers and perform other operations to ensure safety, regardless of the weather. Meanwhile, drivers receive comprehensive information regarding target speed, stops and track deviation. With the combination of low cost and flexible operations, this groundbreaking transit system can be run using existing roads in cities – saving the trouble of building fixed rails and making it the ideal choice for urban transportation.

Following extensive development and testing, the iDRT has now entered the promotion and application demonstration stage. The T1 Demonstration Line is a valuable platform to demonstrate the commercial applications of the iDRT system, while facilitating iterative updates of existing technologies and products throughout the process. These tests will lay the groundwork for future promotions of the system in domestic and international markets.

The commercial applications of the DRT equipped with iDRT in the Lin-gang New Area will further advance the research and development of Shanghai's digital tram standards. At the same time, the launch of the T1 Demonstration Line will promote the coordinated development and intelligent maintenance of iDRT systems, as well as the adoption of the system in other self-driving demonstration lines.