Shanghai’s First Fully Automated Subway



The Line 18 subway has an interactive door system that can detect the movement of passengers and prevent injuries.

If you think Tesla’s autopilot feature is cool, take a look at Shanghai’s first fully automated subway. 

On December 26, 2020, after four-and-a-half years of construction and testing, Line 18, began operating as Shanghai’s first full-function, automated subway. The new line passes through the Pudong New Area, Yangpu, and Baoshan districts, and consists of a total of eight stations. Line 18 runs on Grade-of-Automation-4 (GoA4), the highest level of automation for train systems, which means it operates entirely without staff on board. “The daily functions of Line 18 such as automatic start-up, safety examination, arriving at stations, opening and closing train doors, train washing, and returning to the subway warehouse do not require any human intervention throughout the whole process,” said Jiang Siliang, commissioning manager of CASCO Signal Co., Ltd.

Line 18 is also the first metro line in Shanghai equipped with wireless phone charging on platforms and throughout the cars. The subway also has an interactive door system that can detect the movement of passengers as they board in order to prevent potential injuries, and emergency call buttons in case help is needed from subway station workers.

Another new feature of Line 18 is its lighting system, which is designed to adapt automatically to different situations.  For example, the lights dim during the day when the subway runs above ground and become brighter when the train runs through a tunnel. The subway also alters its lighting according to different seasons throughout the year –– having lights with a warmer tone during the winter and a cooler tone during the summer. The new lighting system allows the line to enhance passenger comfort and reduce energy consumption.

During the opening ceremony for the line, Song Bo, vice president of Shanghai Shentong Metro Group Co., Ltd, said, “[Line 18] is leading [in the subway industry]. The new metro line demonstrates the quality advancement pursued by the new generation of Shanghai subway trains and reflects on Shanghai’s unique characteristics as an international city.”

The new line has received compliments from local citizens. “This is the first time I have ever seen the [subway] train tracks from within the train itself, it was as if I was driving the train,” said a citizen in response to a Shanghai news reporter from Xinhuashe. “[The design and furnishment of] Line 18 has a strong technological feeling to it and it attracted many people as soon as it began operating; the seats were almost full.”

Many look forward to the completion of Line 18’s second phase, which aims to run through 16 more metro stations closer to the center of Shanghai, a total of 22.9 miles (36.8 km).