French rolling stock manufacturer Alstom, along with the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and TU Berlin, is developing technical solutions to support the digitalisation of passenger rail services in Germany.

The move is part of the research project ‘Automated regional trains in Lower Saxony, Germany.’ which is evaluating the possibilities of automation in regional transport through the European Train Control System (ETCS).

Under the project, automated driving is being trialled on routes in Northern Germany.

As part of phase one, new systems for driverless operation are being developed for the trials.

The systems feature signal recognition to facilitate the recognition and interpretation of railway traffic signals set up along the track. The train will also have the ability to detect hurdles.

Landesnahverkehrsgesellschaft Niedersachsen (LNVG) is delivering two regional trains for the tests.

The automation research project is also supported by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection (BMWK). Lower Saxony’s Ministry of Economics is providing €5.5m to purchase the required equipment for the two test vehicles.

Automated driving has to be carried out as a “living lab” under real conditions in phase two.

The new system will be deployed in the two LNVG multiple units pre-equipped with ETCS and tested in operation.

Observations from development and operation will enable the preparation for the later approval of fully automated trains.

Alstom DACH region president Müslüm Yakisan said: “With our joint pilot project, we are creating the basis for the use of this technology in German regional transport and are significantly driving forward the implementation of corresponding technical solutions.”

Last month, Alstom, along with Electra, and Dan Transportation, received a contract for the Tel Aviv Metropolitan LRT Green Line project in Israel.