New studies on highest automation levels in regional and mainline transport railway systems.
New studies on highest automation levels in regional and mainline transport railway systems.
( Source: Siemens AG)

AUTOMATED TRAINS Innovative research projects on the safety of automated railways

Editor: Florian Richert

Siemens Mobility and prominent partners have won two innovative research projects from the German Center for Rail Traffic Research to study the safety of automated rail operations. The aim is to define the criteria needed for approving fully automated regional and mainline rail service. The two projects will be funded with €1.7 million and are scheduled to run for 30 months.

“With these research projects, we are strengthening our position as a pacemaker for digitalization and automated driving,” said Gerhard Greiter, CEO of Northeastern Europe at Siemens Mobility. “We are counting on the advantages rail automation offers to passengers and operators alike. Whether it’s about punctuality, safety or energy efficiency – self-driving trains bring mobility to a new level. And we’re working on it.”

The studies will focus on the highest levels of automation (levels GoA 3 and GoA 4) which classifies fully automated trains with and without attendants. The research findings will provide important impetus to the further digitalization of railways. Automated regional and mainline rail transport is expected to shape the future of mobility.

Focus of the research projects

One of the projects will investigate which safety requirements must be met by fully automated mainline trains. The goal is to ensure that automated trains provide at least the same level of safety as trains operated by people. Siemens Mobility will lead the project and work closely with its partners, TU Berlin and TÜV Rhineland.

The second project will be headed by TU Berlin and focus on comparing human and technical performances. The study aims to answer the question: What must an automatic system be able to do to match the capabilities of a train driver? Partners in this project are the German Aerospace Center, DB Systemtechnik and Siemens Mobility.

Experience and expertise

Siemens Mobility will contribute its experience and expertise gained in various projects in the field of rail automation. These include the self-driving metros in Nuremberg and Paris as well as the findings of the company’s research on obstacle detection systems for fully automated rail operations.

Know-how gained from Siemens Mobility reference projects in Hamburg and London will also flow into the research project. In Hamburg, the company is conducting a pilot project for highly automated driving with the S-Bahn, which is scheduled to begin passenger service in 2021 for the ITS World Congress. In London, Siemens Mobility combined for the first time a system for automated train operations (ATO) with the European Train Control System (ETCS) on the ThamesLink line.

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