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Keeping subways on the right track

Subway systems are the lifeblood of some of the biggest and busiest cities in the world, transporting tens of thousands of people every day, and making a vital contribution to the social and economic fabric of the metropolitan areas they serve. Faced with such high volumes of traffic, it is crucial that subway operators be able to provide their passengers with a safe and reliable service. Thales is a key player in helping them do so. 

If you’re going to San Francisco…

One of those operators is the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), which is the seventh-largest public transport agency in the United States, providing transit services to more than 200 million passengers a year. 

January 2023 saw the entry into revenue service of the SFMTA’s new Central Subway line, which connects Sunnydale to Chinatown via four new stations. The line is 1.7 miles long and connects people to popular destinations such as Chinatown, Union Square, Yerba Buena Gardens, the Moscone Convention Centre and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Thales had a major part to play in the project. Further to a contract awarded in 2014, it was responsible for the design and construction of the line’s advanced train control technology. 

The SelTrac™ CBTC (communications-based train control) solution installed on the line brings multiple benefits to the SFMTA: it complements low life-cycle costs, increases revenue by moving more people more quickly, and supports the city in its efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The passenger experience has also been enhanced: the line provides transit users with a safe and rapid commute between Union Station and Chinatown. 

Crosstown traffic

Thales, as part of the Crosstown Partners consortium alongside TC Electric, was also recently awarded a contract by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) in New York to supply CBTC signalling for the 10-mile long Crosstown line, which connects the boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn.

The system represents a significant upgrade for the Crosstown line, replacing the current legacy technology, and as well as providing the CBTC system, Thales will be maintaining it for a period of 25 years.

The contract is yet another chapter in a longstanding relationship between the two organisations. Thales has been a partner of the MTA for over a quarter of a century, providing signalling solutions that help the subway run 24 hours a day in the city that never sleeps, including a significant upgrade to the Flushing line in 2019.