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SNCF-led consortium tests semi-autonomous locomotive on mainline

16 Dec 2020 (Last Updated December 16th, 2020 15:34)

A consortium led by French state-owned railway company SNCF has operated a locomotive in partial autonomy under real operating conditions with the European signalling system ERTMS.

SNCF-led consortium tests semi-autonomous locomotive on mainline
SNCF Class BB 27000 locomotive. Credit: Alf van Beem via Wikipedia.

A consortium led by French state-owned railway company SNCF has operated a locomotive in partial autonomy under real operating conditions with the European signalling system ERTMS.

Equipped with automated acceleration and braking functions, the Prima BB 27000 locomotive ran on a line between Longwy and Longuyon, under the supervision of a driver.

The trial serves as a key step for the autonomous train project line, which SNCF launched in 2018 with other consortium partners, including Alstom, Altran, Apsys, Hitachi Rail and Railenium.

SNCF Autonomous Train project director Luc Laroche said: “Our shared project has just passed a key stage, in adherence to the schedule that was announced. It’s a success.

“The research and tests conducted with our partners over these two years have allowed us to make rapid progress towards the autonomous train, and we are overcoming the technical obstacles one-by-one.

“Our work is aimed at making the rail mode more competitive and will contribute to developing a more environmentally friendly mode of transport.”

In the next stage, SNCF aims to operate a train with the same level of partial autonomy on a line equipped with lateral signalling without making any modifications to the infrastructure.

This test is expected to be conducted at the end of next year.

SNCF aims to run a completely autonomous train in 2023.

The company expects that automating train operations will drive multiple benefits, which include increased capacity and service reliability, as well as provide more environmentally friendly transport.