Agreement signed for ATO development in freight transport

freight train automation

Thales and Knorr-Bremse signed a Memorandum of Understanding to develop freight train automation implementing automated digital features and functions. The two companies will cooperate on the development of Automatic Train Operation (ATO) solutions for locomotive-hauled freight and passenger trains.

“In our industry, Automatic Train Operation is a key lever for making rail freight more efficient and more available, increasing transport capacity, and further optimising lifecycle costs for operators. Our partnership agreement with Thales has enormous potential for bringing about the innovations required to enable safe and smooth Automatic Train Operation and thus improve, for example, energy efficiency and punctuality,” Nicolas Lange, Chairman of the Management Board of Knorr-Bremse Rail Vehicle Systems said.

ATO will deliver multiple benefits for the rail freight sector delivered increased efficiency and capacity, energy savings, performance enhancements and better punctuality. Train punctuality in particular depends on smooth, consistent train driving based on factors such as track characteristics, topography and surrounding traffic, as well as train-specific parameters such as load, which influences traction and braking performance.

“Full autonomy is still a work in progress, although the necessary technologies are maturing rapidly. ATO is one of them, as a necessary step toward achieving fully autonomous driving. Thales has a clear vision for autonomy and is pleased to partner with Knorr-Bremse,” Yves Joannic, Vice President Main Line Signalling and Managing Director Ground Transportation Systems at Thales Germany said.

The freight train automation solutions will increase rail transport efficiency, competitiveness and flexibility and will contribute to the EU’s ambition to shift road transport to railways thus achieving the climate objectives of the Green Deal.

With respect to 2030 climate targets through the reduction of transport emissions by at least 18%, upgrading the rail freight sector is imperative for shifting large amounts of freight from trucks and airplanes to green, rail-based transportation. Rail consumes 12 times less energy and emits up to 11 times less CO2 per passenger / tonne kilometer compared with cars and trucks.


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