The oldest line in the capital, which takes 725,000 tourists and Parisians across the city every day, is to be revolutionised.
Line 1, which runs from the La Défense business district in the west to the Bois de Vincennes in the east, will become less dependent on drivers between now and the end of 2012, when the line becomes fully automatic. Following the eight new driverless trains, a further 41 will be taken on by the end of next year.
The new trains can respond more easily to periods when passenger numbers soar, as they are not reliant on drivers being available. Metro operator RATP also says muggy journeys will be a thing of the past, as passengers on board the new trains will enjoy air conditioning and screens displaying travel information.
The transition towards driverless trains on the line has been in motion for many years - automatic safety barriers have been installed along the platforms of each of the 25 stations, and the track has been adapted in stages. The transition has had to be phased in, to prevent disruption to the service.
The line, which opened in 1900, connects some of the city's major sites - tourists renting Paris apartments can hop on the line and soak up the Bastille, Louvre museum, Place de la Concorde and the Arc de Triomphe.
The Paris metro boasts 16 lines, excluding the five high speed RER lines which connect major hubs and run to the city's suburbs. It is the second busiest network in Europe after Moscow, carrying over 4.5 million passengers a day.
The newest line, number 14, used driverless trains from the start.
'Line 14 was designed to be automatic from the outset while on line 1 the work has been carried out without any interruption to the service, a world first,' RATP told daily newspaper Le Parisien.
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