ProRail to start testing self-driving trains next year


Rail manager ProRail will start experimenting with self-driving trains on several routes next year. The first test involves freight trains on the Betuwe-line. And the first experiment with passenger trains will happen in the province of Groningen, NOS reports.

The freight trains tests will be done in cooperation with Alstom, a company that is developing a system for automatic train operation. The experiment in Groningen will be done in collaboration with transit company Arriva and the province of Groningen. 

ProRail will also investigate whether the Schiphol tunnel and the route between Amsterdam and Eindhoven are suitable for self-driving trains. Trains with an automatic operation system can run closer together, which will better utilize the tracks on these busy routes. 

The rail manager is testing an automatic train operation system which has four levels, in which level 1 is only slightly automated and level four is fully automated. These first experiments will test level 2 of the system, which still includes a driver being present at the controls. 

Earlier this year ProRail said it wanted to start testing self-driving trains by the end of this year, but making agreements with the involved parties and completing the necessary procedures took longer than expected.