Véhicule Automatique Léger
VAL is a type of automatic rubber-tyred people mover technology, based on an invention by Professor Robert Gabillard from the Université Lille Nord de France). It was designed in the early 1980s by Matra and first used for the then new metro system in Lille. VAL is one of the world's first driverless mass transit rail network to serve a city centre (preceded only by the Port Island Line in Kobe, Japan).
The acronym was originally for Villeneuve d'Ascq à Lille (Villeneuve d'Ascq to Lille), the route of the first line to be projected (and inaugurated). It now officially stands for Véhicule Automatique Léger (automatic light vehicle).
In contrast to some other driverless metro systems like the Docklands Light Railway or Vancouver's SkyTrain, the VAL design uses platforms that are separated from the rollways by a glass partition, to prevent waiting passengers from straying or falling onto the rollways. Platform screen doors, which are produced by Swiss glass door manufacturer Kaba Gilgen AG, embedded in these partitions open in synchrony with the train doors when a train stops at the platform. The original platform edge doors were manufactured and installed by PLC Peters in Hayes Middlesex and were used on the first line.
List of VAL systems
- The Lille metro was inaugurated on April 25, 1983. VAL systems were subsequently built in several other French cities
- Paris Orlyval, 1991 – VAL 206 cars
- Toulouse Metro, 1993 – VAL 206 cars
- Rennes Metro, 2002 – VAL 208 cars
- Paris CDGVAL, April 2007 – VAL 208 cars
Outside of France, VAL systems are also used in:
- Chicago O'Hare International Airport's Airport Transit System (opened in 1993)
- Taipei's Line 1 (opened in 1996, larger variant using the MAGGALY technology from Lyon Metro line D)
- Turin's Metrotorino (opened in 2006, just before the 2006 Winter Olympics) - uses VAL 208
- Uijeongbu's U Line (South Korea) (opened in 2012) – uses VAL 208
The Chicago O'Hare and Taipei lines use the wider VAL 256 version of the system.
Other uses of VAL technology
- The automatic trains on line 14 of the Paris Métro are not VAL, but they use part of the VAL technology.
- Siemens (the company that acquired Matra) is going to transform line 1 of the Paris Métro into an automatic system like line 14.
- Lyon's metro line D is a larger rubber-tyred metro; it was originally developed independently but ended up incorporating some components of VAL technology. The type of vehicle is the same of Paris lines 1, 4, 6, 11 and 14: rubber-tyred metro (trains that run on rubber tyres and steel wheels, in contrast to VAL trains, that use only rubber tyres).
In 2006, the NeoVal project, successor of the VAL, was announced. It will feature regenerative braking. 40% of the 62 million Euros set aside for the programme will come from the AII (tech. supporting project agency now called Oseo). The program is managed by Siemens, in association with Lohr Industrie. The NeoVal will be guided by a single central rail, similar to that of the Translohr, and will be able to operate without any electrical supply between the stations (no third rail or overhead), making the cost of infrastructure much lower.
Medium Capacity System
When VAL was introduced to Taipei, the term medium-capacity rail transport system was coined by railway planners to differentiate VAL from heavy rail (metro). Since then this term began to be applied on similar capacity transit systems, mainly among Asian cities, even when the systems are not based on VAL's technology. In Siemens official site, VAL is advertised "first fully automated light metro", in which the term "light metro" can be traced back to Moscow Metro Butovskaya Light Metro Line.
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- Transportation in France
- Rubber-tyred metro
- Rubber-tyred trams
- Medium-capacity rail transport system
- Bombardier Guided Light Transit
- Automated guideway transit
- People mover
- AnsaldoBreda Driverless Metro
- "Uijeonbu (Korea) Line 1" (pdf). Siemens. June 2012. Retrieved 2014-04-10.
- "Siemens selected for Rennes metro Line B". Railway Gazette International. 16 November 2010. Retrieved 2015-01-24.