Alstom has won the ‘Innovation Prize for Regulatory Sandboxes’ from the German Federal Ministry of Economics to test automatic train operation (ATO) on regional trains.

The test project will implement ATO in regional trains for daily passenger services.

The project is scheduled to commence next year in partnership with Regional Association of the greater area of Braunschweig, the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and the Technical University of Berlin (TU Berlin).

Selected tracks and necessary equipment were tested for automated operation and it was decided that two Coradia Continental regional trains will be used for testing.

The trains are owned by the Regionalbahnfahrzeuge Großraum Braunschweig. The test on regional passenger trains with ATO will be the first in the world.

Alstom Germany and Austria MD Jörg Nikutta said: “In the future, automated trains will optimize regional rail operations, reduce energy consumption, and increase ride comfort. In this way, highly automated driving will make a decisive contribution to climate protection and contribute to the development of a modern, attractive railway system.

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By GlobalData

“Following the development and successful testing of the world’s first hydrogen train Coradia iLint, Alstom is once again the innovative driver in rail transport with the pilot for regional trains in automated operation.”

Based on Alstom’s Coradia Continental platform, the two trains will be installed with the European Train Control System (ETCS) and additional ATO equipment.

With this equipment, the trains will be able to operate automatically and test various grades of automation (GoA).

GoA3 is a completely autonomous train journey, which has an attendant who can take over the operation during emergencies. It is used for regular passenger operation while GoA4 is used during shunting.

GoA4 is an unattended operation and no staff are present aboard the train. However, the train can be remotely controlled.

The project findings will aid in the further development of legal and regulatory framework for ATO.