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China’s Virtual Rail Transit System Put Through Its Paces in Doha

CRRC’s trackless Autonomous Rail Rapid Transit (ART) system has shown good performance in the hot conditions of Doha, Qatar, after testing began on 17 July 2019.


Launched in June 2017 by CRRC Zhuzhou Institute, the ART system uses onboard sensors to run along a virtual track, which in turn cancels the need to lay real tracks, dramatically reducing construction time and costs compared with other rail transit systems.

Fully Electric and Fast Charging

At around 30 meters long in a three-carriage configuration the system has capacity for 300 passengers and is able to read the dimensions of the road and planning its own route in case detours need to be made in the event of traffic jams.

Powered by electricity using lithium-titanite batteries, the ART train can travel 40km (25 miles) on a full change and can be recharged at stations en route in 30 seconds or at the end of the line in 10 minutes. The ART train can reach a top speed of 70km/h (43.5mph)

With low-floor design enabling easy access for those with reduced mobility, the bi-directional vehicle is capable of achieving its top speed in either direction due to driver’s cabs at both ends.

Designed with Safety in Mind

While it is an autonomous system it will run with a driver for safety. However, it has been equipped with a Lane Departure Warning System and a Collision Warning System for support to keep a safe distance from other vehicles on the road.

The Route Change Authorisation analyses the traffic conditions and recommends detours to avoid congestion and keep journeys running to time.

FIFA World Cup 2022

As it is hosting the FIFA Men’s World Cup in 2022, Qatar’s transport ministry will select tenders to upgrade Doha’s transport capacity in time for the competition.

With the country’s hottest months being between July and September where temperatures average 45C and can hit a maximum of 60C, the ART will be tested for its power, flexibility, battery performance and air-conditioning in Doha’s high temperatures and humidity.

Worldwide Interest

Now running in Zhuzhou, Hunan province, Yonhxiu, Jaingix province and Yibin, Sichuan province, more than 100 cities across the world have taken an interest in the virtual rail transit system and discussed co-operation.

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