Automatic S-Bahn train unveiled in Hamburg

first automatic trainRichard Lutz, the CEO of DB, Roland Busch, the CEO of Siemens AG and Peter Tschentscher, the Mayor of Hamburg have presented world’s first automatic train that made its premiere run at the opening of the Intelligent Transport Systems World Congress (ITS) in Hamburg.

During the congress, four digital S-Bahn trains operate automatically along the 23-km section of S-Bahn Line 21 between the Berliner Tor and Bergedorf/Aumühle stations.

The train project is part of the Digital S-Bahn Hamburg programme.

The S-Bahn train is controlled by digital technology and is fully automated while the driver remains on the train only to supervise the journey with passengers on board.

Shunting, such as turning the train around, is done without on-board personnel.

“We’re experiencing the true turn of an era: The rail has arrived in the digital future and Digital Rail Germany has become a reality. With automated rail operations, we can offer our passengers a significantly expanded, more reliable and therefore improved service – without having to lay a single kilometer of new track,” Richard Lutz said.

DB, Siemens Mobility, and the City of Hamburg, as the project partners, have invested a total of EUR 60 million in the digital S-Bahn Hamburg, which is part of DB’s Digital Rail Germany project.

This first automatic train can accommodate up to 30 per cent more passengers, significantly improves the punctuality and can save more than 30 per cent energy.

“We are making rail transport more intelligent. Trains drive the perfect timetable automatically, accurate to the second and energy-optimised. This way, we are supporting our partner Deutsche Bahn in its goal of making train travel more attractive and protecting the climate,” Roland Busch said.

In 2018, the three partners entered a collaboration agreement to implement the Digital S-Bahn Hamburg project, which is providing a blueprint for highly automated mainline and regional railway operations in Germany. The goal of the project was to develop a pilot automated S-Bahn operation using four vehicles along the S21 Line.

The technical basis for digital rail operations is the future European Automatic Train Operation (ATO) standard, combined with the ETCS Level2, with trains receiving their control signals via radio.

The four digital S-Bahn trains in Hamburg will provide regular scheduled passenger service beginning in December. Plans to digitalize Hamburg’s S-Bahn entire system by the end of the decade are already under way, and investments in trains and infrastructure are being made. Plans are already in the making for deploying this technology in the Hamburg S-Bahn network outside the pilot section.

The technology is projected to be used nationwide for regional and mainline rail systems.


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