World’s first automated, driverless train unveiled in Germany

World’s first automated, driverless train will start operations in December. Located in Hamburg, Germany, the train is built by German rail operator Deutsche Bahn and the industrial group Siemens. As they unveiled the train, they added that it will be more punctual and energy-efficient than regular fuel-powered trains with drivers.

Germany Unveils First Automated, Driverless Train
Image credits- NDTV

Many cities have automated metros, but not trains. Meanwhile, Airports do have automated monorail trains plying terminals. While the airport ones are monorails, specifically designed for those trains. The Hamburg train will be operating along with regular rail tracks in real-time.

Both Deutsche Bahn and Siemens are working on the project named “world-first”. This project is part of Hamburg’s rapid urban rail system. The modernization of the rapid urban rail system is known to cost around 60 million euros, including the automated train. Deutsche Bahn CEO Richard Lutz said that the self-driving trains will offer “a more reliable” service “without having to lay a single kilometer of new track”.

Siemens CEO Roland Busch said, “We are making rail transport more intelligent.” Further added that they estimated trains can transport  “up to 30 percent more passengers, significantly improve punctuality and save more than 30 percent energy”.

It is to note that these trains will have drivers regardless of being automated. Supervising journeys are needed as this is the first time such trains are going to operate along with trains driven by drivers.

Automated driverless trains

There are various grades given to automated trains. While Grade-of-automation-2 is the one where a driver monitors the train. However, for Level-2, the driver has to be involved a lot more. The level of the train in Hamburg is not mentioned. However, it is expected to be at least Grade-3 according to the Grade of Automation classifications specifications. Else it wouldn’t be much effective way to efficiently operate autonomous trains with punctuality and efficiency.

AirTrain JFK is one example of a driverless train. However, it is used for airport terminals connection from New York City to Long Island Rail Road. While the passengers traveling from within the airport don’t need to pay, the others traveling outside the airport are paying passengers. There are ten stations and three terminals. Initially planned to take 4 million passengers per year, by 2019 the train was traveling around 8.7 million paying passengers. Also, the non-paying customers are around 12.2 million every year.

Regardless of the location, autonomous trains have proven to be effective. Germany turns out to be the first country to have driverless train operations which travel along with regular trains.