The 2021 Intelligent Transport Systems World Congress of future mobility in Hamburg got off to an innovative start in mid-October with a premier: the maiden 23-kilometer trips of autonomous self-driving trains on the city’s aboveground public transport system.
The EUR 60 million project – a joint endeavor by the city, German rail company Deutsche Bahn and Siemens – uses two retrofittable train operation systems that fully automate procedures like starting accelerating, decelerating and stopping. A driver is still on bard to operate trains as they travel along stretches of track not yet equipped with the necessary digital infrastructure.
The new technology will make it possible to run trains at intervals of only 90 seconds, half what is currently standard on the route in question. According to Siemens, it will also increase passenger capacities by up to 30 percent while decreasing energy consumption by a similar proportion. Siemens CEO Roland Busch called the system a “blueprint for rail digitalization in Germany, Europe and the entire world.”
Hamburg says it aims to equip all its aboveground trains with the technology by 2030, at an estimated cost of EUR 800 million. Deutsche Bahn is looking to digitalize its entire rail network by 2035.