Véhicule Automatique Léger

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This article is about the people mover system. For other uses, see Val (disambiguation).

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[edit]

Outside of France, VAL systems are also used in:

The Chicago O'Hare and Taipei lines use the wider VAL 256 version of the system.

Jacksonville, Florida had a VAL line inaugurated in 1989, which was shut down in December 1996 and replaced by a monorail, the Jacksonville Skyway. The rolling stock was sold to O'Hare.

Other uses of VAL technology[edit]

Interior of VAL 256 with manufacturer's decal
  • The automatic trains on lines 1 (MP 05) and 14 of the Paris Métro (MP 89) are not VAL, but they use part of the VAL technology. Siemens (the company that acquired Matra) is going to transform line 4 into an automatic system like lines 1 and 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.[2]


CityVal is based on the NeoVal system. 19 CityVal trainsets have been ordered for the second line of the Rennes Metro.[3]

Medium Capacity System[edit]

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).[citation needed] 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.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]