First regional passenger ATO train test to start in Germany

Regional passenger ATO trials Alstom has announced that regional passenger ATO trials are planned to be carried out with two Coradia Continental trains owned by the Regionalbahnfahrzeuge Großraum Braunschweig GmbH and operated by Metronom in Lower Saxony. Research project starts in next year and test operation for first automated trains in early 2023.   

This ATO test project will be a world-first for regional passenger trains and will trial the GoA 3 and 4.

Within the next period, an evaluation of the selected tracks and the equipment necessary for automated operation will be performed.

For this project, the two Alstom’s Coradia Continental trains will be equipped with a European Train Control System (ETCS) and additional Automatic Train Operation (ATO) equipment. The equipment will enable the trains to operate automatically, testing different grades of automation (GoA) such as GoA3 in regular passenger operation and GoA4 during shunting.

GoA3 allows a fully autonomous train journey, but with an attendant who can intervene in the operation in case of emergency. GoA4 denotes unattended operation with no staff aboard, but with the possibility of remote control.

The findings from this important project will contribute decisively to the further development of the legal and regulatory framework that will oversee Automatic Train Operation.

Lower Saxony will be at the leading edge and is confident that automatic regional trains equipped with GoA3 will soon be ready for series production. In executing the regulatory sandbox, Alstom can rely on its extensive know-how in automated metros and various other ATO projects.

“The fact that we in Lower Saxony are now able to drive forward the testing and further development of automatic train operation in addition to the test field for automated and networked mobility on the road is a decisive step for the future of passenger transport by rail,” said Lower Saxony’s Minister of Transport, Bernd Althusmann.

The regional passenger ATO trials project will be conducted with the Regional Association of the greater area of Braunschweig, the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and the Technical University of Berlin (TU Berlin).

The Federal Ministry of Economics has presented Alstom with the “Innovation Prize for Regulatory Sandboxes”, related to a planned test project to implement ATO in daily passenger operation of regional trains. Regulatory Sandboxes are becoming increasingly important for Germany as a means for innovation.

This is Alstom’s second innovative mobility solution tested in Lower Saxony after the world’s first hydrogen train operating on the Elbe-Weser Triangle railway network. “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,” Jörg Nikutta, Managing Director of Alstom in Germany and Austria, said.

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