Metro has firewall against hacking


By Shafaat Ahmed

DUBAI – The operation system of Dubai Metro is the most secure in the world and impossible to hack, a senior metro official told Khaleej Times.

Dubai metro
Dubai metro

The world’s largest driverless railway, run on a completely automated system and an independent network, has an incredible chain of back-up and security even in the most unlikely cases of sabotage, he added.

Run by a handful of highly trained professionals from a central command unit called Operational Control Centre (OCC) near the Rashidiya metro station, the system has the capacity to handle multiple lines and will remain as efficient with the start of the Green Line operations.

“The OCC was built keeping the future in mind and we have the capacity to handle several lines at a time with traffic at its peak. The possibility of a goof up is almost impossible as we have the best system in place and we adhere to most sound practices,” said Ramadan Abdullah, Director of Metro Operations.

Currently, the entire operation is controlled and monitored at any given time by around 30 engineers and technicians through a huge monitoring screen from the OCC. When the Green Line starts in the next six weeks, an additional dozen professionals would be added to the elite force, which keeps track of every minute detail of train movement.

Giving a live demonstration of the operations and explaining the network’s security features Abdullah said that the best thing about the network is, “it is not connected to any other network in the world.”

“Right from the power supply and security system to the network system, the entire process of metro operations is completely independent from other systems and hence has very negligible chances of sabotage, if any,” he insisted.

An incredible system of back up ensures even if there is any breach, the operations are not affected.

“Power supply to the Red Line comes from a set of three dedicated power stations. If one fails the other takes over automatically and if that also fails, which is unlikely to happen, the third station takes over, so there would be a constant supply,” Abdullah informed, adding that the Green Line also has a dedicated supply source and if that blacks out one of the three Red Line power sources would step in.”

He says that even the wiring and cabling system is built in such a way that if one set of cables are disconnected another automatically takes over. “Both sides of the tracks have a secure set of cabling, if one fails the other is automatically activated, there is back up for everything, for example if the trains stop moving automatically the technicians can run it from the OCC through remote and if that also doesn’t work, which is unlikely to happen, our attendants on board the trains are trained to move the rolling stock manually.”

If that is not enough a manifestation of the incredible backup system, then here is another piece of beauty. Each of the five bogies of the train, except the middle two, have two DC motors and the train could be pulled by one of the motors each if others break down.

However, the best part of the operation system is that it requires almost minimal human interference.

Apart from monitoring the system through the screen, not much is required to feed to the system by humans. “The actual monitoring for each line is done only by three professionals at a time who work on an eight hour shift. They hardly move from their position during this period and when needed they are relieved by the Chief Engineer,” Ramadan claimed.

The operations are manned by personals at three layers. The first and most important layer is that of traffic controllers who monitor the movement of trains in both directions. They are directly in touch with various stations and get things done remotely from their positions.

The huge screen shows the positions of various trains, whether they are on track, at station, on time or delayed. If there is any emergency the centre is alerted within a second.

The second layer is that of security controllers, who keep track of every single point on the track inside the station and outside for any possible breaches or incidents through  system surveillance cameras.

The third layer is that of depot and power controller, which monitors the status of power supply, consumption and other related issues through the same mega screen.