By Maria Lopez Conde, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – A new signaling system for SuperVia trains that provide service to Rio de Janeiro and its suburbs has entered the final testing stage, according to a press release from the rail network’s concessionaire. The recently acquired Automatic Train Protection (ATP) system will reduce waiting times between trains during peak hours and offer riders a safer and more punctual train.
The new signaling system, manufactured by a Canadian company, Bombardier, regulates the speed and safety of the train by codifying the signs of the railroad into a computer and letting drivers know to stop or go.
The new equipment had a cost of R$150 million and is part of an initiative to revitalize Rio de Janeiro’s railroad system ahead of the international games the city is hosting in the next few years.
“The current signage is safe, but we intend to revitalize Rio de Janeiro’s rail system with this advance in signaling, coupled with the addition of twenty more trains ordered from Alstom and the other sixty trains auctioned off by the government planned for 2014,” explained João Gouveia, director of operations at SuperVia, in a press release.
This will allow the concessionaire to double the capacity of trains offered on each route and gradually diminish the waiting time on platforms by fifty percent, according to Mr. Gouveia. The plan is for the Deodoro line trains will come every three minutes during peak hours, the shortest interval among all the other branches.
The new system should be available in the Deodoro line by March and in all other lines by the end of the year. Deodoro is one of four sites in Rio hosting 2016 Olympic Games; including fencing, dressage competitive (equestrian horse-riding), shooting, canoeing, pentathlon, mountain bike racing and BMX racing.
The upgrade to SuperVia’s system is part of a wider effort to improve Rio de Janeiro’s public transportation infrastructure as the city prepares to host the FIFA World Cup in 2014 and the Olympic Games in 2016.
Last year, the city secured R$1.63 billion in funding from the Federal Government to finance both the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line on Avenida Brasil and the Light Rail Transit (LRT) line in Centro.
This investment in SuperVia’s infrastructure might bring significant improvements for the over 500,000 Brazilians that ride its trains every day. In recent years, riders have protested against a service that has been fraught with not only breakdowns and frequent delays, but also accidents, like derailments and crashes.
Silvano Brandão, a driver in Rio de Janeiro’s Zona Sul, welcomed the news about an upgrade to a service he considers precarious. A resident of Japeri, a suburb about seventy kilometers northwest of Rio and a stop on one of SuperVia’s lines, he stopped taking the train to work because it was unreliable.
“There is a lot of room for improvement and I believe in the SuperVia trains. If SuperVia makes changes to the system, no one is going to want to ride the bus or drive; they’re all going to take the train and get home faster and safely,” Mr. Brandão said.