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Usually, automated subways also include surveillance systems, such as closed-circuit TV, to allow people to monitor trains' progress and safety from a control room. Subway systems that don't use automated trains have an extensive collection of signs and signals to help drivers operate the trains safely. A few early subways used steam engines, but in most existing subways, the trains, tunnel lights and station equipment all run on electricity. All of these systems add up to a lot of moving parts, many of which are underground and relatively inaccessible. There are track charts for several years between 1900 and 1950 out there, but they only cover the trolley lines. The BSRA's track map is from 1986, and includes both the old Washington St EL and the present Southwest Corridor alignment of the Orange Line, as well as Watertown and Arborway trackage, and trackless trolley wires. A pretty amazing map-cum-timeline of subway ridership from 1905 to 2006, displays with either lines or dots, and allows you to scrub forward and back in time. Also, a lovely archive of NYC subway track maps — distinct from the passenger maps of people who use the subway, these show every actual track, including old and unused. Most of the time, the train consists of several connecting cars that contain durable seats as well as poles and straps for people to hold on to when the train is full. In some subway systems, the trains themselves, known as rolling stock, are extremely complex. Two-way radio systems allow passengers to talk to employees in the control room or summon help in case of an emergency.

For example, some signals can physically activate an emergency brake on a subway train if the driver continues past a stop signal. Overhead wires or an electrified rail known as the third rail supplies power to the trains.
Many subway systems include numerous sections of above-ground track and station entrances that are open to the air. I've been researching the development of the subway here in Boston and have been curious about details in the underground tracks and lines between stations. The train runs on rails, which often have the same gauge as other rail systems around the city.
The subway in Copenhagen, Denmark, currently in construction, uses completely computerized, driverless trains. Sensors also detect objects near the train or in doorways, so people don't get caught between the doors or hurt themselves trying to board the train before it departs. Signals typically use colored lights to let drivers know when to stop, whether the track ahead of them is occupied and when to proceed with caution. In the original New York City subway tunnels, drivers had to use a key to reset stop signals before they could proceed. The third rail lies outside or between the subway tracks, and a wheel, brush or sliding shoe carries the power from the rail to the train's electric motor. However, natural air circulation from these sources isn't enough to keep the air in the tunnels breathable.

The ongoing upgrade to the New York City subway will replace its older cars with automated cars, each of which will contain multiple computer systems.
Infrared sensors, capacitance plates or short-circuits created by the cars' wheels can let a signal know when a train is present. In the New York City subway system, the third rail carries 625 volts of electricity, and the original lines required their own power plant to operate. I know it definitely shows the storage track, which is there but I've never seen anything on it.
That signal can communicate with adjacent signals, ensuring that two trains do not try to occupy the same section of track at the same time. A series of cables and substations carried the electricity from the power plant to the third rail. The amount of circulation required is immense -- the planned ventilation system to be included in the New York City subway upgrade will move 600,000 cubic feet of fresh air every minute. In such automated systems, a collection of sensors detects trains' locations in relation to one another.
Computer programs keep track of where all the trains are, reducing the possibility of human error and improving the overall efficiency of the system.

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