Appenzeller Bahnen (AB) and Stadler signed a contract for the construction and delivery of a rack-and-pinion rail vehicle including the installation of the CBTC system designed and manufactured by Stadler. The commissioning is scheduled for 2026.
This is the first time that Stadler has equipped a mountain rail vehicle with its in-house CBTC (Communication- Based Train Control) solution. This enables automated and driverless operation depending on the system expansion level.
“The implementation of automated and driverless operation on the Rheineck–Walzenhausen line is a milestone in the digitalisation of rail operations. The project will represent valuable pioneering work for automated rail transport on intercity routes. Railway digitalisation projects around the world will benefit as a result,” Marc Trippel, Head of Stadler’s Signalling Division said.
Stadler is implementing the highest automation level 4 (GoA4) for AB. This means that train operation can be fully automated and driverless. There are no longer any members of staff on board and all operations are automated. AB staff in the operations centre can intervene in train operations by remote control.
The new vehicle on the Rheineck–Walzenhausen line will be a fully automated train running as an open system in free-field conditions. The CBTC solution must therefore also take over the monitoring of the track and the detection of obstacles. The new train on the Rheineck– Walzenhausen line will be the world’s first fully automated overland adhesion/ rack-and-pinion rail vehicle.
In addition to the construction of the vehicle, Appenzeller Bahnen will also modernise the track and platform systems, preserve the tunnels and bridges and start corresponding work. The main work is planned for 2025, with completion and commissioning in 2026 when the new train is expected to operate the modernised line. The project is estimated at CHF 25 million (EUR 26.4 million)
The 1.9 km Rheineck–Walzenhausen line has been launched in 1896 and the train is running since 1958 and must be replaced following a 64-year of operation period, ending its service life.