A major transport milestone has been reached on the Terminal 5 construction programme as the project nears the 85% completion mark.
Six 15t 'automated cars', each with a capacity to carry up to 75 passengers, have been delicately lowered by crane down a 12m shaft into the tunnel system of T5's tracked transit system (TTS), ready for commissioning.The TTS is a light rail system providing the essential underground link between the various terminal buildings which make up T5.The stand-alone transport system will use an automated people mover (APM) to shuttle passengers between the main terminal building (T5A) and its smaller satellite building (T5B) when the terminal opens in March 2008. It will then be extended to the second satellite building (T5C) in 2011.The TTS uses rubber-tyre driverless 'cars' that run along a guideway. Trains will depart from the TTS stations through two parallel tunnels every 90s with a journey time of 45s. The system will move 6,500 passengers per hour at a maximum speed of 31mph. 'Similar but older systems are in use at Stansted and Gatwick airports, but the T5 system is the most modern of its kind,' said Ralph Abbott, BAA station & TTS deputy project leader.The cars were built by Bombardier Transportation in Pittsburgh, USA, and were shipped to the UK in July and August. The system also features a moving block communication based signalling system.Eddie Wright of Bombardier Transportation said: 'Moving block technology enables the cars to communicate continually with an antenna that is fixed along a guide-way, so the infrastructure knows exactly where every vehicle is at all times on the system.'This means that vehicles can operate safely and at speed much closer to each other than on the fixed block system that other train systems use.'T5 will have six cars initially but the system has been designed to take 16.