Automated People Mover

Automated People Movers (APMs) are fully automated and rubber-tired passenger transport systems. They run on elevated guideways, as well as in tunnels and can be designated as Automated Guideway Transit (AGT).

Sometimes they are also called Passenger Transfer Systems (PTS) and are often used as terminal connectors on airports impressing with high operation availability rates.

Self-propelled APM

self propelled APM

The rubber tired, self-propelled (with motors and gearboxes on board) APM systems are mainly made for high-end use, e.g. at medium to high-sized airports. Self-propelled APM systems have high requirements as far as the infrastructure is concerned demanding heavy concrete structures for the guidway and heating of the guideway running surfaces in winter. Thanks to guideway switches they can be operated in the pinched-loop mode. Therefore, they are network compatible. They can cope with high transport capacities; allow short headways as well as an extremely flexible operation and good extension capabilities. The big transportation players sell the self-propelled technology. However, it only represents a niche product for them. Self-propelled APMs are extremely reliable and reach availability rates above 99.5 %.

Rope-propelled APM

The rope technology for train-based systems in the horizontal way is more than 100 years old and has its origins in the USA with the cable cars like trams (e.g. San Francisco Cable Car).

Rope-propelled APMs are rubber-tired connector/feeder systems for fast point-to-point-connections from A to B with a few number of stations (max. 4), short distances (max. 3 km), longer headways (min. 3 min) and a limited network capability. Typically, they are independent shuttle systems and in very rare cases pinched-loop systems using switches.

One of the main advantages of rope-propelled APMs is the robust, simple technology which also works without any problems when facing difficult weather conditions such as ice and snow and which has a low maintenance effort. Thanks to the passive vehicles (no motors and gearboxes on board) the elevated guideway structure can be built in a lighter way as compared to self-propelled systems. This allows a smooth integration into the cityscape, enables wider distances between the columns and leads to cost advantages. Rope-propelled systems can cope with high inclinations of up to 20 %. Another advantage of rope-propelled systems is that they ride quite silently thanks to their passive vehicles. At the same time the disadvantage is that there is a constant basic noise because of the rolling motion of the rope, which can be disturbing in the densely constructed downtown.

Furthermore, they are limited in their operating range because they depend on the rope which means that they are not as flexible as self-propelled systems and later extensions are difficult to execute if they haven´t been planned right from the outset. They are also limited in terms of guideway length, transport capacity and headway rates and the feasibility have to be checked very carefully in the planning phase. If the alignment has a lot of curves there is a higher rope friction at the rope guiding sheaves in the guideway which leads to a disadvantage regarding the energy consumption compared to self-propelled systems.