(DB) and Siemens Mobility
have developed the world’s first train that operates by itself in rail traffic. The train is controlled by digital technology and is fully automated, although the driver remains on the train to supervise the journey with passengers on board.
Shunting, such as turning the train around, is done without on-board personnel. The project partners — DB, Siemens Mobility, and the City of Hamburg — have invested a total of 60 million euros in the digital S-Bahn Hamburg, which is part of DB’s ‘Digital Rail Germany’ project.
Richard Lutz, DB’s CEO — speaking after the premier run on 11 October at the opening of the Intelligent Transport Systems World Congress (ITS) in Hamburg — said: “Today, we are experiencing the true turn of an era: the railroad 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 kilometre of new track. It is our goal to make rail transport attractive to ever-larger numbers of people, which is the only way we can achieve the mobility transition.”
Roland Busch, Siemens AG’s CEO, added: “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. With our technology, our customers can transport up to 30% more passengers, significantly improve punctuality and save more than 30% energy.
“The digital S-Bahn Hamburg marks a world premiere. The new technology has already been officially approved; and featuring open interfaces it can immediately be used by operators worldwide for all types of trains.”
During the congress that saw the digital S-Bahn have its premiere run, four digital S-Bahn trains operated automatically along the 23km section of S-Bahn Line 21 between the Berliner Tor and Bergedorf/Aumühle stations.
The technical basis for digital rail operations is the future European Automatic Train Operation (ATO) standard, combined with the European Train Control System (ETCS). The trains receive their control signals via radio, and the technology is projected to be used throughout Germany for regional and mainline rail systems.