Trams to get anti-collision system

Prague’s transit company is testing a system to automatically stop trams

The Prague Public Transit Company (DPP) plans to test an anti-collision system on trams this month. The tests will be carried out on the Tatra T6A5 tram at the repair works in Malešice. The anti-collision system should prevent accidents between trams in Prague traffic. If the system is successful, further testing is expected on selected trams.

In the long term, technology to prevent collisions with cars could be introduced.

DPP technical director Oldřich Vytiska said his firm was cooperating with the Czech Technical University in Prague (ČVUT) for choosing an appropriate system and putting it into operation.

“If the chosen device meets the requirements for city tram transport and has the required features, the test and approval process will be completed after six months,” Vytiska said on the DPP website.

The system operates on the principle of directional antennas and sends short messages between individual vehicles. Depending on the set critical parameters, the device evaluates the risk of the tram collision risk and warns the tram driver. For older tram models, this warning can be provided with an acoustic signal and, in new trams, the anti-collision system can stop the tram without driver intervention.

Testing equipment will be provided free of charge by American company Protran Technology.

“In the future, we would like to extend this system to include similar devices that are used in self-driving cars to detect other vehicles,” Vytiska said. But the transition will not be so easy. “The tram has very different and specific driving and braking characteristics compared to cars.”

The DPP also regularly checks and measures the stopping capabilities of all trams at specified intervals, in accordance with Czech law. The relatively new Škoda 15T ForCity trams have the most effective braking power. For example, at a speed of 40 km / h on a flat track with an empty tram, it can stop using all braking systems at a distance of about 18 meters. Detecting hazards early is a key component to stopping accidents, as 18 meters is a long distance compared to how a car can stop.

The T6A5 first went into service in Bratislava in 1991 and was the successor model to the classic Tatra T3. Prague acquired 150 units of the T6A5 tram between 1995 and ’97. The boxy looking trams were made by ČKD Tatra until 2002 when the company folded.

The Prague tramway network is the largest such network in the Czech Republic, with 142.4 km of tracks and over 900 trams.

The classic T3 tram model and its variants, introduced in 1960, are still the most common and account for roughly half of the fleet. The more modern Škoda 15 T ForCity, equipped with WiFi, accounts for about one-quarter of the fleet. There are also Tatra KT8D5 models and Škoda 14 T models in the tram fleet.

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